By the end of this week, half of the nation’s state legislatures will be back to work for the year, but don’t expect to see a lot of women on the floor of state legislatures.
There are exactly 5,600 male lawmakers, compared to 1,783 female lawmakers, according to a new count from the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. That means that just under one in four state legislators is a woman. And there hasn’t been much progress in gender parity over the past year — the ratio today is the exact same as it was five years ago. Arkansas saw the most growth since 2009, with women now accounting for 23.7 percent of state lawmakers, up from 17 percent. Alaska saw the biggest decline. There, women now make up 20 percent of the legislature, down from 28.3 percent in 2009.
Just four states can claim to have more than one in three female lawmakers: Vermont (41 percent), Colorado (41 percent), Arizona (36 percent) and Minnesota (34 percent). In the four states with the lowest share of female legislators, women make up less than 15 percent of the legislature. Their share is smallest — about 12 percent in Louisiana. Next is South Carolina, followed by Oklahoma and then Alabama.
Women make up nearly one in every three state Democrats, compared to about one in six Republicans. Among female state lawmakers, 1,134 are Democrats while 634 are Republicans.
There are also few women in leadership. In only nine states does a woman serve as the Senate president or president pro tem, according to NCSL. Six states have a female House speaker. Overall, there are just 62 women in major positions in the states.