California State Capitol Dome

Gender Parity in the U.S. and California Legislature

Women make up approximately 50% of the population, yet we do not hold 50% of the positions of power that can effect change. The U.S. trails behind 93 countries out of a list of 190 when it comes the highest number of women in national parliaments in a report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union. While the 114th Congress is “hailed” as the most diverse Congress in history with more women and minorities than ever, it still has an insubstantial percentage of 19.4 women. Women hold 19.3% of Congressional seats and 20% in the U.S. Senatorial seats. Democratic leadership in the 114th Congress carries the weight in diversity, but it cruises just below 35% when it comes to the number of women within the democratic caucuses.

The California State Legislature also faces a challenge of gender representation to reflect that of its voters. Women make up 25% of the California State Assembly, and 27.5% of the State Senate. State Assembly and Senate democrats on average are doing worse than the U.S. legislative democrats with 24.7% of the democratic delegation being women.

We have many exceptional legislators at the federal and state levels, especially from our Silicon Valley delegation; however, we as a community must drive change, cultivate and identify more women to take a seat at the table of policymakers. Everyone in the community and democratic leaders are positioned to be a vehicle of this change given the progressive environment with like-minded people. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research analysis of data from Women in the U.S. Congress 2013 indicate that projection for political gender parity will be reached in 2121. How do we need to shift the conversation and bring this priority to the forefront to make history and transform the political gender balance?

If you are interested in the status of gender ratio at the local level in Santa Clara County, California, stay tuned for an upcoming piece.

Author’s note: This piece was originally posted on the DAWN (Democratic Activists for Women Now) April 2015 Newsletter.

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