By Katie Ziegler
Center for American Women and Politics for updates). Many of these races were in the national media spotlight, and several of the women elected represent noteworthy demographic "firsts." It was hard to escape the pundit corps' speculation about how the "women's vote" would affect the presidential election. So, was this a "year of the woman" at the state legislative level, too?
Our preliminary data collection points to "no." While there are still some races too close, the proportion of women serving in state legislatures in 2013 will be about 24 percent. This is a slight increase from the 2012 session's 23.7 percent, but it is not the substantial jump in numbers that women's advocates had hoped to see.
Colorado has retained its position as the state with the highest percentage of female lawmakers at 42 percent of total membership. The South Carolina General Assembly will once again have women serving in both chambers after four years without any women in the Senate. Most states had small gains or losses in their numbers of female legislators, with the exception of New Hampshire. The control of the New Hampshire House switched from Republican to Democratic, and the election of over 100 new members to that chamber's 400 included more than 40 women. Visit the Women in State Legislatures: 2013 page for complete information; it will be updated as results are finalized.
Why is there such slow growth in the number of women in state legislatures? One explanation is the number of female candidates. Overall, the number of women running for state legislatures this year was not much different from 2010. If we had seen significant growth in the number of women running, that may have translated to a greater increase in the number of women elected. Several groups have focused on recruiting and training women to run for office in recent years. The women who participated in those programs may not have chosen to throw their hats in the ring this year, or they may have aimed at an office besides the statehouse. As we learn more about women in the 2012 elections, you'll read about it here on The Thicket.