"More women serve in state legislatures than ever before. Yet women continue to be dramatically underrepresented ... Women constituted 54% of voters in the 2008 elections, but only 24% of state legislators," from Poised to Run: Women's Pathways to State Legislatures.
In Wyoming in the 2019 Legislature, only 15% of the electeds were women.
Poised to Run digs into how to elect more women, especially at the state level. They found that some really basic efforts can make a world of difference. Here's what it boils down to:
Step 1: Recruit more women!
Step 2: Ensure that party leaders and organizations support female candidates.
Step 3: Provide resources! We have to fund women's campaigns.
"Even in a record-setting year for women candidates in 2018, women were fewer than 25% of candidates who filed to run for Congress. What do we need to do if we want to see the pool of women candidates grow again in 2020?" Kelly Dittmar reminds us that there is work to be done; read more of her thoughts in To see another record year for women candidates, we have to do more than ask women to run.
We wanted to take a deeper dive, so we pulled the 2018 and 2016 primary data from Wyoming's House and Senate races and spent some time poring over these lists, counting the total number of candidates and the total number of women. Less than 25% of all candidates in State House and Senate races were women. (By our count, it was 40 female candidates out of a total candidate pool of 180.)
The bills that we saw this session were a direct result of who is controlling the discussion. We're determined to change that conversation. We're 18 months from the next election, so let's start talking now about how we do that.
First and foremost, consider this: Run.
Not running? Support a candidate. Give her your time, your money, your encouragement.
Speak up. Make sure that candidates know what policies would improve your economic security and increase your access to education, childcare, paid family leave, and healthcare.
Make sure your voice is represented at the decision-making table. Help us elect more women. Maybe you're one of them.
There are great resources for women who want to run for office. Here are just a few:
Want more great reads on the current climate for female candidates, especially Presidential candidates? Check out these articles and essays:
“The filling of the pipeline was a 35-year project or longer,” says Lake, who adds that Barbara Mikulski, one of the first women to join the Senate, used to joke that she was a 30-year overnight success.
“There is no uniform approach to how these women will navigate gender in the campaign,” said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
In 2016, the nonpartisan Barbara Lee Family Foundation found that striving to be likable is a zero-sum game; it doesn’t reinforce the qualities that make you fit to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. The last vestige of it will fade when women challenge each other on issues.
As an unprecedented number of women launch their campaigns for the presidency, the female Democratic 2020 candidates are putting their experiences as mothers front and center, speaking candidly about juggling parenting and work. And in doing so, experts say, they are breaking with long-held perceptions of the past that discouraged women in politics from talking about their roles in the home.
“If a woman was presented with a similar choice: Do that less ambitious but better for the party thing, versus more ambitious but longer shot thing, I don’t see people being super understanding when she takes the latter,” said Jess McIntosh.