The percentage of state lawmakers who are women will shrink to 23% in 2011, down slightly from almost 25% in 2010, according to a new report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
This reverses a trend in which women made up a larger proportion of state legislatures each year back to 2005 when women comprised just over 22%.
While New England legislatures have included more women historically, the region suffered a much larger loss than the nation at large. In 2010, 32% of state legislators in New England were women; in 2011, just over 27% will be. This drop was driven by New Hampshire, where 53 women lost seats in the legislature. Among other New England results, Connecticut lost five women legislators, Maine lost tow and Massachusetts lost six.
Vermont and Rhode Island were the only two states to gain women in their legislatures. Rhode Island has traditionally lagged behind the U.S. average in the percentage of women in its legislature, but with this year’s gains, the Ocean State joins all the other New England states in above-average representation of women.
Vermont has traditionally had the highest proportion of women in its legislature in the region and the second-highest in the nation. Its legislature is 38% women. The state with the highest proportion in the country is Colorado with 39%. The percentages in the New England states are:
New Hampshire: 25%
Rhode Island: 26%
Related Posts: How New England Fared in the 2010 Midterm Elections; Special Policy Report: A High-Stakes Election for New England; Boys Club Connection Fall 2000 (pdf)