Milestones for Women in American Politics

1894

1894

The first three women elected to a state legislature in the country were Clara Cressingham (R)Carrie C. Holly (R), and Frances Klock (R), all in the Colorado House of Representatives. 

1896

1896

Martha Hughes Cannon (D) was elected to the Utah State Senate, becoming the first woman state senator in the country.

1924

1924

Cora Belle Reynolds Anderson (R) was elected to the Michigan State House of Representatives, the first Native American woman in a state legislature.

1929

1929

With her appointment to the West Virginia State House of Representatives, Minnie Buckingham Harper (R) became the first Black woman in a state legislature.

1930

1930

Two Latinas, Fedelina Lucero Gallegos (R) and Porfirria Hidalgo Saiz (D), were elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives, the first Latina state legislators.

1933

1933

Minnie Davenport Craig (R-ND) became the first woman to hold the position of speaker of the House in a state legislature.

1938

1938

Crystal Dreda Bird Fauset (D) was elected to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, the first Black woman elected to a state legislature.

1962

1962

Patsy Takemoto Mink (D) became the first Asian Pacific Islander woman elected to a state legislature when she won a seat in the Hawaii Senate.

1974

1974

Elaine Noble (D) became the first openly lesbian or gay candidate elected to a state legislature. She served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for two terms starting in January 1975. 

1983

1983

Vesta Roy (R-NH) became the first woman to hold the position of president of a state senate.

1992

1992

Althea Garrison (R) was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, becoming the first transgender or transsexual person to serve in a state legislature in the United States. Garrison was outed against her wishes after being elected.  

1994

1994

Olympia Snowe (R-ME) became the first woman (and the ony Republican woman) to have been elected to her State House, State Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also followed this path to the U.S. Senate, making her the first Democrat to do so.

2007

2007

Colleen Hanabusa (D) became president of the Hawaii Senate, the first woman of color and the Asian Pacific Islander woman to hold the top leadership position in a state legislative chamber.

2008

2008

Karen Bass (D) became speaker of the California State Assembly, the first woman of color to serve as speaker of a state house and the first Black woman to lead either house of a state legislature.

2009

2009

The New Hampshire Senate became the first state legislative chamber in the country to reach or surpass gender parity, with 13 of its 24 seats (54%) held by women in 2009-2010.

2013

2013

Tina Kotek

Tina Kotek (D-OR) became the country's first openly lesbian state House speaker. 

2017

2017

25 years after Althea Garrison's election and non-consensual outing, Danica Roem (D-VA) became the first openly transgender person to be elected and to serve in a state legislature in the United States. 

Crisanta Duran (D) became speaker of the Colorado General Assembly, the first Latina to lead either house of a state legislature.

2019

2019

Nevada became the first state to have women hold a majority of state legislative seats (32 of 63, or 50.8%). While women hold a majority of the seats overall, they are majority in only one chamber, the Assembly, where they hold 23 of the 42 seats. The New Hampshire Senate was the first state legislative chamber to surpass gender parity in 2009, although its overall proportion in both chambers still remained below 50%.