Women in State Legislatures 2015

Number and Percentage of Women in State Legislatures, 1980-2015

Current State Legislature
1,811
(1,085D, 707R, 11NP, 4Ind, 3Prg, 1WFP)
24.5% of 7,383 seats

Since 1971, the number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled.

NP = non-partisan, Ind = Independent, Prg = Progressive

State-by-State Summary Data on Current Women State Legislators

State Senate
443
(265D, 166R, 11NP, 1Ind)
22.5% of 1,972 seats
State House/Assembly
1,368
(820D, 541R, 3Ind, 3Prg, 1WFP)
25.3% of 5,411 seats
Party Breakdown
Party Total Legislators State Senators State Representatives
Democrats 1,084 (59.9%) 265 (59.8%) 819 (60.0%)
Republicans 706 (39.0%) 166 (37.5%) 540 (39.5%)
Nonpartisans* 11 (0.6%) 11 (2.5%) 0 (0%)
Working Families Party 1 (0.1%) 0 (0%) 1 (0.1%)
Independents 4 (0.2%) 1 (0.2%) 3 (0.2%)
Progressives 3 (0.2%) 0 (0%) 3 (0.2%)
TOTAL 1,809 (100.0%) 443 (100.0%) 1,366 (100.0%)

*In Nebraska, where the legislature is unicameral, legislators are elected on a nonpartisan basis.

Top 10 States

Colorado (42.0%) 
Vermont (41.1%) 
Arizona (35.6%)
Washington (34.0%)
Minnesota (33.8%)
Nevada (33.3%)
Illinois (32.8%)
Maryland (31.9%)
Montana (31.3%)
Oregon (31.1%)

Bottom 10 States

Louisiana (12.5%) 
Wyoming (13.3%) 
Oklahoma (14.1%) 
South Carolina (14.1%)
Alabama (14.3%) 
West Virginia (14.9%) 
Utah (15.4%)
Kentucky (16.7%)
Virginia (17.1%) 
Mississippi (17.2%)

State Legislators by Race and Ethnicity

*Women who self-identify as more than one race/ethnicity are included on CAWP pages for each group with which they identify. We strongly caution against adding totals from each racial/ethnic group should, as it will double count officeholders. 

 

Of the 1,809 current women state legislators:

  • 39 identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander
  • 255 identify as Black
  • 85 identify as Latina
  • 1 identifies as Middle Eastern/North African
  • identifies as Multiracial Alone
  • 19 identify as Native American/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian 
  • 1,422 identify as white

State Legislative Leadership

Current Women Presidents or Presidents Pro Tem of Senates
17
(8D, 9R)

Sylvia Allen (R-AZ)
Ellen S. Roberts (R-CO)
Patricia Blevins (D-DE)
Pam Jochum (D-IA)
Susan Wagle (R-KS)
Sharon Weston Broome (D-LA)
Tonya Schuitmaker (R-MI)
Sandra Pappas (DFL-MN)
Debby Barrett (R-MT)
Sharon Carson (R-NH)
Nia Gill (D-NJ)
Mary Kay Papen (D-NM)
Ginny Burdick (D-OR)
M. Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-RI)
Pam Roach (R-WA)
Mary Lazich (R-WI)
Donna J. Boley (R-WV)

Current Women Speakers of State Houses
4
(3D, 1R)

Toni Atkins (D-CA)
Beth Harwell (R-TN)
Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-CO)
Tina Kotek (D-OR) 

State Legislative Firsts

  • 1894: The first three women elected to a state legislature in the country were Clara Cressingham, Carrie C. Holly, and Frances Klock, all in the Colorado House of Representatives.
  • 1896: Martha Hughes Cannon (D-UT) became the first woman elected state senator in the country.
  • 1924: Cora Belle Reynolds Anderson (R-MI) became the first woman of color elected to a state legislature.
  • 1933: Minnie Davenport Craig (R-ND) became the first woman to serve as speaker of a state house.
  • 1974: Elaine Noble (D-MA) became the first openly LGBT candidate elected to a state legislature.
  • 1983: Vesta Roy (R-NH) became the first woman to serve as president of a state senate.
  • 2007: Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) became the first woman of color to serve as president of a state senate.
  • 2008: Karen Bass (D-CA) became the first woman of color to serve as speaker of a state house.
  • 2013:Tina Kotek (D-OR) became the country's first openly lesbian state House speaker. 

For other important state legislative firsts, visit the Milestones for Women in American Politics page.

Women in State Legislatures 2015
State State Rank Senate Total Women/Total Senate House Total Women/Total House Total Women/Total Legis. %Women Overall
AL 46 3D | 0R | 1Ind 4/35 11D | 5R | Ind 16/105 20/140 14.3
AK* 15 1D | 4R 5/20 2D | 10R 12/40 17/60 28.3
AZ 3 6D | 7R 13/30 12D | 8R 20/60 33/90 36.7
AR 36 3D | 4R 7/35 6D | 14R 20/100 27/135 20.0
CA* 20 8D | 4R 12/40 11D | 8R | Ind 19/80 31/120 25.8
CO 1 8D | 4R 12/35 20D | 10R 30/65 42/100 42.0
CT* 15 8D | 1R 9/36 25D | 19R 44/151 53/187 28.3
DE 28 5D | 1R 6/21 7D | 2R 9/41 15/62 24.2
FL* 23 6D | 6R 12/40 13D | 15R 28/120 40/160 25.0
GA 29 8D | 2R 10/56 28D | 18R 46/180 56/236 23.7
HI 13 8D | 0R 8/25 11D | 3R 14/51 22/76 28.9
ID 17 4D | 6R 10/35 7D | 13R 20/70 30/105 28.6
IL 7 12D | 4R 16/59 32D | 10R 42/118 58/177 32.8
IN 34 3D | 6R 9/50 12D | 10R 22/100 31/150 20.7
IA 29 6D | 1R 7/50 21D | 6R 27/100 34/150 22.7
KS 27 4D | 9R 13/40 10D | 17R 27/125 40/165 24.2
KY 43 2D | 2R 4/38 11D | 8R 19/100 23/138 16.7
LA 50 3D | 1R 4/39 9D | 4R 13/105 17/144 11.8
ME 12 5D | 3R 8/35 30D | 16R 46/151 54/186 29.0
MD 8 11D | 2R 13/47 36D | 11R 47/141 60/188 31.9
MA* 23 12D | 0R 12/40 29D | 9R 38/160 50/200 25.0
MI 35 1D | 3R 4/38 17D | 9R 26/110 30/148 20.3
MN 5 15D | 8R 23/67 26D | 18R 44/134 67/201 33.3
MS 41 2D | 6R 8/52 15D | 6R 21/122 29/174 16.7
MO 26 5D | 1R 6/34 19D | 24R 43/163 49/197 24.9
MT 9 12D | 6R 18/50 21D | 8R 29/100 47/150 31.3
NE* 31 0D | 0R | 11Ind 11/49 0D | 0R | Ind - - unicameral - - 11/49 22.4
NV 6 3D | 2R 5/21 8D | 7R 15/42 20/63 31.7
NH 14 4D | 4R 8/24 70D | 45R 115/400 123/424 29.0
NJ 11 8D | 3R 11/40 16D | 10R 26/80 37/120 30.8
NM 19 4D | 3R 7/42 13D | 10R 23/70 30/112 26.8
NY* 20 7D | 5R 12/63 36D | 5R | 1Ind 42/150 54/213 25.4
NC* 31 7D | 5R 12/50 14D | 12R 26/120 38/170 22.4
ND 38 4D | 4R 8/47 11D | 8R 19/94 27/141 19.1
OH* 23 4D | 3R 7/33 13D | 13R 26/99 33/132 25.0
OK* 47 3D | 3R 6/48 5D | 10R 15/101 21/149 14.1
OR 10 6D | 2R 8/30 16D | 4R 20/60 28/90 31.1
PA 39 4D | 5R 9/50 15D | 23R 38/203 47/253 18.6
RI 18 9D | 1R 10/38 17D | 4R 21/75 31/113 27.4
SC* 47 1D | 1R 2/46 12D | 10R 22/124 24/170 14.1
SD 33 1D | 6R 7/35 4D | 11R 15/70 22/105 21.0
TN 40 2D | 4R 6/33 7D | 10R 17/99 23/132 17.4
TX 37 2D | 5R 7/31 16D | 13R 29/150 36/181 19.9
UT 44 3D | 3R 6/29 7D | 3R 10/75 16/104 15.4
VT 2 7D | 2R 9/30 44D | 15R | 6Ind 65/150 74/180 41.1
VA 42 7D | 1R 8/40 12D | 4R 16/100 24/140 17.1
WA 4 10D | 8R 18/49 19D | 13R 32/98 50/147 34.0
WV 45 0D | 1R 1/34 6D | 13R 19/100 20/134 14.9
WI* 20 7D | 4R 11/33 14D | 9R 23/99 34/132 25.8
WY 49 1D | 0R 1/30 3D | 8R 11/60 12/90 13.3
265D | 166R | 12Ind 443/1,972 819D | 541R | 7Ind 1,367/5,411 1,810/7,383 24.5

* States share the same rank if their proportions of women legislators are exactly equal or round off to be equal.