Apr 7, 2022 - Politics

TN trails for women in elected office

Reproduced from CAWP. Map: Axios Visuals

Tennessee ranks No. 42 nationally in the percentage of women elected to local offices.

  • Women account for 26.6% of the officials elected to municipal office here, according to research by Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics.
  • That's an increase of only one percentage point over last year's figure.

Why it matters: Advocacy groups say the study emphasizes the need for work in increasing the number of women elected to public office in Tennessee.

  • "We know that when elected representatives reflect the makeup of their communities, that government functions better," Debby Gould, president of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, tells Axios.
  • "Women need to have a seat at the table at every level of government. Tennessee has a long way to go to make that happen."

The big picture: The national average for women in local office is 31.5%. Hawaii leads the way at 50%.

What she's saying: Emerge Tennessee trains Democratic women to run for office. Freda Player-Peters, executive director of the organization and a member of the Nashville school board, tells Axios that women can make for ideal candidates at either end of professional life.

  • "As baby boomers retire, they have the knowledge, skill sets and the time to give back to our communities through elected office," Player-Peters says.
  • "Younger women are marrying later in life, if at all, [and] gaining more educational and career experience compared to their mother's generation. They are experiencing our neighborhoods evolving and devolving at such a rapid pace. They see the need to create laws and policies to ensure our communities thrive."
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