Women in State Legislative Leadership 2021

More information on women in state legislatures

Data as of March 2021

In 2021, of the 350 state legislators holding leadership positions1 nationwide, 90, or 25.7%, are women. Women hold 39, or 24.1%, of the 162 leadership positions in state senates and 51, or 27.1%, of the 188 leadership positions in state houses. Women hold leadership positions in 31 state senates and in 32 state houses; in 9 states, women do not hold leadership positions in either chamber.

The party breakdown for women serving in state legislative leadership positions is:

Total Legislature
Party Total Women Total Leadership Percent Women
Total 90 350 25.7
D 67 158 42.4
R 23 190 12.1
I/NP 0 2 0.0
State Senate
Party Total Women Total Leadership Percent Women
Total 39 162 24.1
D 30 71 42.3
R 9 89 10.1
I/NP 0 2 0.0
State House
Party Total Women Total Leadership Percent Women
Total 51 188 27.1
D 37 87 42.5
R 14 101 13.9
I/NP 0 0 0.0

In 2021, two women serve as senate presidents and thirteen women serve as senate presidents pro tempore; seven women serve as speakers, and twelve serve as speakers pro tempore of state houses. Twenty-three women of color hold leadership positions. There are thirteen Black women (Butler, Camper, Griffith, Herring, Jones, Lightford, Lucas, McClinton, Peoples-Stokes, Sample-Hughes, Stapleton, Stewart-Cousins3, and Sykes), six Latina women (Benavidez, Benitez-Thompson, Gomez-Reyes, Gonzalez, Rios, and Ruiz), one Asian woman (Belatti), and two multiracial women (Kidani, Okimoto). Leadership positions are listed below with first year of service.

Senate

Senate Presidents 2 (1D, 1R)
AZ - Karen Fann (R) 2019
MA - Karen Spilka (D) 2018

Senate Presidents Pro Tempore 13 (10D, 3R)
CA* - Toni Atkins (D) 2018
CO - Kerry Donovan (D) 2021
HI - Michelle N. Kidani (D) 2017
LA - Beth Mizell (R) 2020
MD - Melony G. Griffith (D) 2020
NH - Sharon M. Carson (R) 2021
NJ - M. Teresa Ruiz (D) 2018
NM* - Mimi Stewart (D) 2021
NY3 - Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) 2019
VA* - Louise Lucas (D) 2020
VT* - Rebecca Balint (D) 2021
WA* - Karen Keiser (D) 2018
WV* Donna J. Boley (R) 2015

Senate Majority Leader 13 (8D, 5R)
AK - Shelley Hughes (R) 2021
FL - Debbie Mayfield (R) 2021
IL - Kimberly Lightford (D) 2019
MA - Cynthia Stone Creem (D) 2018
MD - Nancy J. King (D) 2020
ME - Eloise Vitelli (D) 2021
NC - Kathy Harrington (R) 2021
NJ - Loretta Weinberg (D) 2012
NV - Nicole Cannizzaro (D) 2019
NY3 - Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) 2019
OK - Kim David (R) 2019
PA - Kim Ward (R) 2021
VT - Alison Clarkson (D) 2021

Senate Minority Leader 11 (11D)
AZ - Rebecca Rios (D) 2021
GA - Gloria Butler (D) 2021
ID - Michelle Stennett (D) 2013
KS - Dinah Sykes (D) 2021
MN - Susan Kent (D) 2020
MT - Jill Cohenour (D) 2021
ND - Joan Heckaman (D) 2017
NH - Donna Soucht (D) 2021
OK - Kay Floyd (D) 2019
UT - Karen Mayne (D) 2019
WI - Janet Bewley (D) 2020

*In these states, president pro tempore is the top leadership post held by a senator, the lieutenant governor serves as senate president.

House

Speakers of the House 7 (6D, 1R)
AK - Louise Stutes (R) 2021
MD - Adrienne Jones (D) 2019
MN - Melissa Hortman (D) 2019
OR - Tina Kotek (D) 2007-2011; 2013
VA - Eileen Filler-Corn (D) 2020
VT - Jill Krowinski (D) 2021
WA - Laurie Jinkins (D) 2020

Speakers Pro Tempore 12 (8D,4R)
CO - Adrienne Benavidez (D) 2021
CT* - Michelle Cook (D) 2018
CT* - Minnie Gonzalez (D) 2021
CT* - Mary Mushinsky (D) 2020
GA - Jan Jones (R) 2011
MA - Kate Hogan (D) 2021
MD - Sheree L. Sample-Hughes (D) 2019
MI - Pamela Hornberger (R) 2021
MN - Liz Olson (D) 2019
NC - Sarah Stevens (R) 2017
NH - Kimberly Rice (R) 2021
WA - Tina Orwall (D) 2021

House Majority Leader 14 (12D, 2R)
CA - Eloise Gomez Reyes (D) 2021
CO - Daneya Esgar (D) 2021
DE - Valerie Longhurst (D) 2013
HI - Della Au Belatti (D) 2018
MA - Claire D. Cronin (D) 2021
ME - Michelle Dunphy (D) 2021
MT - Sue Vinton (R) 2021
NM - Sheryl W. Stapleton (D) 2017
NV - Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D) 2017
NY - Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes (D) 2019
OR - Barbara Smith Warner (D) 2019
VA - Charniele Herring (D) 2020
VT - Emily Ling (D) 2021
WV - Amy Summers (R) 2019

House Minority Leader 18 (11D, 7R)
AK - Cathy Tilton (R) 2021
AR - Tippi McCullough (D) 2021
CA - Marie Waldron (R) 2019
HI - Val Okimoto (R) 2021
ID - Ilana Rubel (D) 2020
KY - Joni L. Jenkins (D) 2020
ME - Kathleen RJ. Dillingham (R) 2019
MI - Donna Lasinski (D) 2021
MO - Crystal Quade (D) 2019
MT - Kim Abbott (D) 2021
NV - Robin Titus (R) 2021
OH - Emilia Sykes (D) 2019
OK - Emily Virgin (D) 2019
OR - Christine Drazan (R) 2019
PA - Joanna McClinton (D) 2021
TN - Karen Camper (D) 2019
VT - Patricia McCoy (R) 2019
WY - Catherine Connolly (D) 2017

*In CT and MN there are multiple speakers pro tempore.

The states with the highest percentages of women in leadership positions (senate and house combined) are:

State % Women
Vermont 83.3
Alaska 50.0
Massachusetts 50.0
Maryland 50.0
Maine 50.0
Virginia 50.0
California 42.9
Nevada 42.9
New York 42.9
Oklahoma 42.9
Washington 42.9
  • Of the top states for women leaders, MD, ME, NV, and VT also rank in the top ten for the percentages of women serving in their legislatures.
  • Nine states have no women (0%) in leadership positions: AL, IA, IN, MS, NE, RI, SC, SD, TX.
  • Of the worst states for women leaders, AL, MS, and SC ranked among the ten states with the lowest percentages of women in their state legislatures.

History of Leadership Positions

The first woman senate president was Vesta Roy (R-NH). The first woman to serve as speaker of a state house was Minnie Davenport Craig (R-ND).

State senator Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) was the first woman of color and the first Asian Pacific Islander woman to lead either house of a state legislature; she served as Hawaii's Senate president from 2007-2011. Karen Bass (D-CA) was the first woman of color and first Black woman to serve as a House speaker, leading California's Assembly from 2008-2010. Crisanta Duran (D-CO) was the first Latina to serve as a House Speaker, serving from 2017 to 2019. In 2013, Tina Kotek (D-OR) became the country's first openly lesbian state House speaker.

Women in State Legislative Leadership Summary by State
State Rank4 Total Women Leaders (%) Senate Majority Party Senate Women Leaders/All Leaders (%) House Majority Party House Women Leaders/All Leaders (%)
AK 2 3/6 (50.0%) R 1/3 (33.3%) R 2/3 (66.7%)
AL 42 0/7 (0.0%) R 0/3 (0.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%)
AR 33 1/7 (14.3%) R 0/3 (0.0%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
AZ 24 2/8 (25.0%) R 2/4 (50.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%)
CA 7 3/7 (42.9%) D 1/3 (33.3%) D 2/4 (50.0%)
CO 12 3/8 (37.5%) D 1/4 (25.0%) D 2/4 (50.0%)
CT 28 3/17 (17.6%) D 0/3 (0.0%) D 3/14 (21.4%)
DE 29 1/6 (16.7%) D 0/3 (0.0%) D 1/3 (33.3%)
FL 36 1/8 (12.5%) R 1/4 (25.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%)
GA 22 2/7 (28.6%) R 1/3 (33.3%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
HI 12 3/8 (37.5%) D 1/4 (25.0%) D 2/4 (50.0%)
IA 42 0/8 (0.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%)
ID 18 2/6 (33.3%) R 1/3 (33.3%) R 1/3 (33.3%)
IL 29 1/6 (16.7%) D 1/3 (33.3%) D 0/3 (0.0%)
IN 42 0/7 (0.0%) R 0/3 (0.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%)
KS 36 1/8 (12.5%) R 1/4 (25.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%)
KY 36 1/8 (12.5%) R 0/4 (0.0%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
LA 24 1/4 (25.0%) R 1/2 (50.0%) R 0/2 (0.0%)
MA 2 4/8 (50.0%) D 2/4 (50.0%) D 2/4 (50.0%)
MD 2 4/8 (50.0%) D 2/4 (50.0%) D 2/4 (50.0%)
ME 2 3/6 (50.0%) D 1/3 (33.3%) D 2/3 (66.7%)
MI 18 2/6 (33.3%) R 0/3 (0.0%) R 2/3 (66.7%)
MN 12 3/8 (37.5%) R 1/4 (25.0%) D 2/4 (50.0%)
MO 33 1/7 (14.3%) R 0/3 (0.0%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
MS 42 0/3 (0.0%) R 0/1 (0.0%) R 0/2 (0.0%)
MT 12 3/8 (37.5%) R 1/4 (25.0%) R 2/4 (50.0%)
NC 22 2/7 (28.6%) R 1/3 (33.3%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
ND 29 1/6 (16.7%) R 1/3 (33.3%) R 0/3 (0.0%)
NE 42 0/1 (0.0%) NP 0/1 (0.0%) N/A Unicameral
NH 12 3/8 (37.5%) D 2/4 (50.0%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
NJ 24 2/8 (25.0%) D 2/4 (50.0%) D 0/4 (0.0%)
NM 18 2/6 (33.3%) D 1/3 (33.3%) D 1/3 (33.3%)
NV 7 3/7 (42.9%) D 1/3 (33.3%) D 2/4 (50.0%)
NY 7 3/7 (42.9%) D 2/3 (66.7%) D 1/4 (25.0%)
OH 36 1/8 (12.5%) R 0/4 (0.0%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
OK 7 3/7 (42.9%) R 2/3 (66.7%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
OR 12 3/8 (37.5%) D 0/4 (0.0%) D 3/4 (75.0%)
PA 18 2/6 (33.3%) R 1/3 (33.3%) R 1/3 (75.0%)
RI 42 /8 (0.0%) D 0/4 (0.0%) D 0/4 (33.3%)
SC 42 0/7 (0.0%) R 0/3 (0.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%)
SD 42 0/7 (0.0%) R 0/3 (0.0%) R 0/4 (0.0%)
TN 33 1/7 (14.3%) R 0/3 (0.0%) R 1/4 (0.0%)
TX 42 0/3 (0.0%) R 0/1 (0.0%) R 0/2 (25.0%)
UT 29 1/6 (16.7%) R 1/3 (33.3%) R 0/3 (0.0%)
VA 2 3/6 (50.0%) D 1/3 (33.3%) D 2/3 (0.0%)
VT 1 5/6 (83.3%) D 2/3 (66.7%) D 3/3 (66.7%)
WA 7 3/7 (42.9%) D 1/3 (33.3%) D 2/4 (100.0%)
WI 36 1/8 (12.5%) R 1/4 (25.0%) R 0/4 (50.0%)
WV 24 2/8 (25.0%) R 1/4 (25.0%) R 1/4 (0.0%)
WY 36 1/8 (12.5%) R 0/4 (0.0%) R 1/4 (25.0%)
Totals 90/350 (25.7%) 39/162 (24.1) 51/188 (27.1)
  1. Leadership positions include: senate presidents and presidents pro tempore; house speakers and speakers pro tempore; majority and minority leaders of the senate and house as listed on each state legislature’s website. When the position of senate president is filled by the lieutenant governor, it is not included in these totals.
  2. In Nebraska, where the legislature is unicameral, legislators are elected on a nonpartisan basis. Alaska has a Speaker of the House who is an Independent.
  3. In New York, the Senate President also serves as the Senate Majority Leader.
  4. Rank is for leadership positions only and is based on combined senate and house figures. States with the exact same percentages are given the same rank; states with no women in leadership positions share the rank of 30.