More Women Legislators and Leaders

Article excerpt

Numbers are up this year for women in state legislatures, both as leaders and members. There are more women presiding officers in the nation's state capitols than ever before - four speakers and three Senate presidents. There are more women members than ever before - 1,588 or 21 percent of the 7,424 state legislators, 54 more than in 1995.

WOMEN IN STATE LEGISLATURES

The Top Ten

State                      % Women

Washington                    39%
Arizona                       37
Colorado                      35
Nevada                        32
Vermont                       32
New Hampshire                 31
Minnesota                     30
Kansas                        30
Maryland                      29
Connecticut                   28
The Bottom Five

State                      % Women

Alabama                        4%
Kentucky                       9
Oklahoma                      10
Louisiana                     11
Mississippi                   11

Ten years ago, women were at 16 percent with 1,170 members. That year, there were three women presiding officers among a total of 17 top women leaders. This year women serve as speakers in Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire and Ohio and as Senate presidents in Arizona, Florida and Iowa. There are a total of 24 women in the top leadership posts - speaker of the House, Senate president, and majority and minority leaders of both houses.

Washington state maintains its long-held status of having the largest proportion of women legislators at 39 percent of the Legislature. Alabama remains at the bottom with 4 percent. Arizona moved into second place this session with 37 percent women lawmakers, up from fourth place and 30 percent in 1995. …