Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: October 18, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412979344 | Print ISBN: 9781412960830 | Online ISBN: 9781412979344| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this handbook
Chapter 13: Women in State Legislatures
Women in state legislatures Leadership in the public sphere typically has been understood as male. Politics is no different. As political scientists Georgia Duerst-Lahti and Rita Mae Kelly (1995) explain, “Masculinity permeates understandings of political leadership” (p. 24). Consequently, not only have women in U.S. history been barred from many types of political participation such as speech making, voting, and office holding, even today, they are only a small minority of state legislators. Although in 2010 women hold a record number of seats, they still comprise less than one quarter of state legislators (24.3%), or about half their proportion of the U.S. population. This chapter explores women's presence in and contributions to state legislatures in light of masculinized understandings of political leadership. After sections on the importance of diverse representation and women officeholders’ historic firsts, the chapter concentrates on their progress in state legislatures over the past 40 years—with primary ...