With the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women in America gained the right to vote. Yet while women make up just more than half of the U.S. population, women make up nowhere near half of the elected officials at any level of American democracy. In fact, the United States is losing ground in this area. In 1998, the United States ranked 59th in the world for women elected to the national legislature; in 2014, it fell to 98th. A survey commissioned by the Women Donors Network, or WDN, found that the public perceives several barriers to electing more women to public office, including a dearth of established political networks, political parties that do not prioritize recruiting women candidates, and a lack of access to the donor networks that often fund political campaigns.

This report draws on research from Who Leads Us, a project of the New Organizing Institute Reflective Democracy Campaign, to calculate the ratio of a state’s female elected officials to its female population. States where female elected representation more closely matches the population as a whole receive a higher score. No state in the country has women fully represented in state government, which would require 50 percent of elected officials to reflect the 50 percent of the population that is female.

For a more detailed explanation of each factor, including citations, please download the full report.

Click to view scoring methodology
  1. State's Performance
    Points added to score
  2. Ratio of representation is equal to or greater than 1
    0 points
  3. For state ranked 1
    0 points
  4. Among states ranked 2–5
    1 points
  5. Among states ranked 6-10
    2 points
  6. Among states ranked 11-15
    3 points
  7. Among states ranked 16-20
    4 points
  8. Among states ranked 21-25
    5 points
  9. Among states ranked 26-30
    6 points
  10. Among states ranked 31-35
    7 points
  11. Among states ranked 36-40
    8 points
  12. Among states ranked 41-45
    9 points
  13. Among states ranked 46-51
    10 points
Policy Recommendation for This Factor

Unlike a number of other factors in this report, increasing the share of Female elected representation does not lend itself to a single policy recommendation provided. Instead, many different policy recommendations included in this report will help women increase their elected representation. In particular, recommendations to modernize voter registration and eliminate barriers to participation and representation are steps to give under-represented voting populations more of a voice in the political process. To see the full list of policy recommendations to improve the health of state democracies based on the findings of this report, click here.

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Press Contact: Benton Strong at Bstrong@americanprogressaction.org 202-481-8142

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