A record number of women are serving in Washington's Legislature
Washington now has more women in its Legislature than any time in state history.
Driving the news: Roughly 46% of Washington lawmakers are women this year — a benchmark the state's never reached before, according to the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University, which tracks female officeholders around the country.
Why it matters: While women in office don't always agree, their increased presence can bring topics to the forefront that might be lower priority in male-dominated legislatures, said Kelly Dittmar, the center's research director and a Rutgers associate professor of political science.
- That can lead to more discussion of issues like gender equity, access to child care and addressing sexual assault, among others, Dittmar tells Axios.
By the numbers: When the Legislature convenes in Olympia Monday for a new 105-day session, it will have a total of six more female lawmakers than last year.
- All told, 68 women will serve in the 147-member Legislature this year.
- That makes Washington the state with the fourth-highest percentage of female lawmakers in the country — a big jump from last year, when we ranked ninth.
Yes, but: Thirty years ago, we were No. 1 among states when it came to female representation at the statehouse, a distinction we held from 1993 through 2004.
- Other states soon started catching up, however, while Washington lost some female members.
- By 2011, only 32% of Washington lawmakers were women, a low point not seen since 1991.
The bottom line: The November election put Washington back among the top U.S. states when it comes to female representation.
- But we still trail Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.
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