We all know that there are more women serving in our General Assembly than there used to be. But, exactly how much increase has there been? And how does that compare to states around us?
The nationwide trends
A story from the Pew Charitable Trusts notes that the trend of more women in politics is nationwide. The the percentage of women in state legislatures has increased from 23% to 30% over the past decade.
Even more important, women have begun moving into leadership positions, with 87 women now serving as speaker of the House, president of the Senate, speaker pro tempore, Senate president pro tempore or majority or minority leader in their state legislatures.
The story in Kentucky and surrounding states
So what has happened in Kentucky and our neighboring states over the past ten years? We’ve taken the numbers and put them into regional maps, to make it easier to see the trends.
The 2010 numbers
Ten years ago, Illinois had a higher percentage of women serving in its state legislature than any of the other states, at 28.2 percent. At the other end of the spectrum was Kentucky, at 15.9 percent.
The 2020 numbers
Ten years later, Illinois is still in front, but Kentucky has improved quite a bit.
The most striking statistic, though, is the difference for each state over the past ten years. Some states have actually regressed in the percentage of women serving in their legislature, even with the nationwide trend going the other way.
Kentucky, on the other hand, saw the largest percentage increase of any of our neighboring states.
Why the dramatic change in Kentucky?
There are many possible reasons for this Kentucky trend:
- The presence of Emerge Kentucky training women to run and then supporting them when they do;
- The Women’s March in 2017, which galvanized women across the country;
- The various activist groups in Kentucky, such as Indivisible and others, the majority of which are led by women;
- And the example of a number of women who have served in Frankfort for years, and who have regularly encouraged other women to get involved.
Whatever the reason, it is definitely a point of pride for Kentucky to be leading the way in getting more women involved in state government.