PHOENIXVILLE - Conversation centered on women's role in the workplace during an intimate roundtable discussion led by U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D-13) at Kari's Cafe on Friday.
Hoeffel lamented the impact on women who take time away from working outside of the home to raise children.
He said that women returning to the work force face wage stagnation, an increase in the cost of health care, if it is offered at all, and the challenge of attending periodical school and doctor's visits.
Sarah Peck, wife of former U.S. congressional candidate Dan Wofford, saw irony in the way employees treat woman returning to the work force.
She noted that women often run a household, are in charge of planning, are efficient, have administrative skills and exhibit high energy which are all assets in the workplace.
Peck suggested that more woman business owners might remedy the situation .
Wofford said that 70 percent of young women choose to work and are often earn less then men.
"Older woman who dropped out and want to go back have outdated skills," said Hoeffel. He called for better ways to "revamp, retool and retrain" women returning to the work force.
U.S. Congressional Sixth district candidate Lois Murphy spoke about juggling a career and a household from personal experience.
"To be involved in your children's plays and soccer games you need the right balance," said Murphy. "Can you get out of work in time to get to the orchestra concert?"
Linda Doman of the Chester County Democratic Party said that women are beginning to take a more progressive role.
"The attitudes of men and woman are changing," said Doman. "We're demanding more."
Hoeffel talked about the disadvantages of working at the managers level. "Women are at a competitive disadvantage," said Hoeffel. "We work in the managerial role but in the workplace women can't work until 8 p.m. because they have to cook dinner."
"Never stop working if you are educated," warned Borough Councilwoman Tish Jones (D- East). "Especially in the nursing profession because there are so many different changes."
Ginger Whittington, National Women's Political Caucus regional director said that she returned to the workforce and made a career change to substitute teacher.
She talked about the difficulty of becoming certified, reacquiring her Spanish language skills and the cost of day care.
Hoeffel noted the high expense of good daycare and then said that daycare workers are often poorly paid.
Peck talked about the expense of waging war in Iraq.
"For $1.2 billion a week you could buy a lot of daycare," said Peck. "There is a very anti-child attitude. Children suffer in the end."
While stressing the need for women to vote, Hoeffel referred to many non-voting women as "skeptical and disappointed," while Jones suggested that they were "busy and stressed to the limit."
The Phoenixville Hoeffel Work-Life Tour stop was the sixth and final in a series. Hoeffel has launched a campaign against four time Republican Incumbent Senator Arlen Specter.
Murphy is running against first term Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach.