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MANAGEMENT UPDATE.

WOMEN IN STATE LEGISLATURES MAKE A DIFFERENCE

“Nearly 130 years since the first three women were elected to state legislative offices in the U.S., women remain massively underrepresented in state legislatures,” reported the Associated Press on March 10.


This state of affairs was thoroughly investigated in a recent report by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics.  


As always, important phenomena like this are more meaningful when you disaggregate the facts. For example, the range of percentages of women in legislatures varies wildly from West Virginia with 11.9% to Nevada with 60.3%.


The full list of top and bottom five are:


LEAST REPRESENTATION

  • West Virginia (11.9%)

  • Tennessee (15.2%)

  • South Carolina (15.3%)

  • Mississippi (15.5%)

  • Alabama (17.1%)


MOST REPRESENTATION

Nevada (60.3%)Colorado (49.0%)Arizona (47.8%)Washington (45.6%)Vermont (45.0%)

These numbers are more than interesting demographics. For example, in Nevada, which was the first state to have a majority of women in the legislature back in 2019, “some Nevada lawmakers say the presence of so many women as peers has changed the kinds of bills that  have passed,” reported the 19th News. “That includes policies to expand protections for pregnant workers, paid sick leave and abortion access. . .”


By contrast, West Virginia passed legislation prohibiting abortion across the board in 2022, according to KDKA news.



You might guess from the states listed above, but the number of women in legislatures correlates strongly to the political party in charge. In states that the senate is controlled by democrats, 64.7% are women, while in republican controlled senates, that number drops down to 33.3%. The numbers are similar in houses of representatives, where 65.9% of members are women in democratically controlled chambers compared to 33.7% where republicans rule the roost.


The breakdown by ethnicity and color is also interesting. Of the 2,247 women legislators, 


  • 1,729 identify as white 

  • 383 identify as Black

  • 191 identify as Latina

  • 98 identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander

  • 14 identify as Middle Eastern/North African

  • 3 identify as Multiracial Alone

  • 36 identify as Native American/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian 


There have been a series of historic milestones as women gain larger portions of the membership of state legislatures, including 1933, when North Dakota elected the first woman to serve as speaker of the house; 1974, when Maryland elected the first openly LGBT candidate; 2007, when Hawaii brought in the first woman of color as president of a state senate and 2013, in which the first openly lesbian house speaker in any state was elected in Oregon. 


There have been a series of historic milestones as women gain larger portions of the membership of state legislatures, including 1933 when North Dakota elected the first women to serve as speaker of the house; 1974 when Maryland elected the first openly LGBT candidate; 2007, when Hawaii brought in the first woman of color to serve as president of a state senate and; 2013 in which the first openly lesbian house speaker in any state was elected in Oregon.


#WomenInStateLegislaures #WomenInGovernment #StateLegislatureDemographics #19ThNews #CenterforAmericanWomenInPolitics #StateLegislatureRacialandEthnicBreakdown #EagletonInstituteofPolitics #RutgersUniversity #WomenLegislatureImpact #B&GWeeklySelection

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