The new RepresentWomen's 2019 Gender Parity Index is out! (To read the full Gender Parity Index report, click here. It's worth your time! You can learn more about their methodology and how our neighboring states are doing.)
Aaaaaannnnd ... Wyoming receives a grade of D for women's representation in elected office.
We have a few thoughts. (You knew we would.)
There are some bright spots. Our lone Congressional District has been represented by a woman since 1995!
Unfortunately, the report also notes that, "The state has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate."
And, when reviewing the history of the state's Federal Delegation, the three women we've sent recently mark a new epoch in Wyoming's history of representation. Congresswoman Cubin's election was the exception; collectively, Congresswomen Cubin, Lummis, and Cheney have turned it into the rule.
We're hopeful that if Congresswoman Cheney runs for Senate against former Congresswoman Lummis--virtually guaranteeing that Wyoming will send its first woman to the US Senate--strong women will step forward to run for the open US House seat. Two birds, one stone.
When we shift over to the Executive Branch, historically only a small fraction of the Big Five members (Governor, SoS, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Auditor, Treasurer) have been women, though it is good news that 2/5 of these electeds are currently women.
The relative dearth (and recent decline) of women in elected office at the state levels cannot be overlooked (or its importance overstated) though. Less than 16% of our state legislators are women. When you read about the Nevada Legislature--now 50% female--and what bills were introduced and passed as a result of the gender balance, the importance of having more women in the state legislature gets really clear.
And things aren't a lot better, as the report talks about briefly, at the local level. The report focuses on mayors (two firsts to celebrate there!), but only 16 of 93 county commissioners are women. Natalia Macker is the first woman ever recognized as the Wyoming County Commissioners Association Commissioner of the Year.
What we don't see is data on other local elections like Sheriff, Assessor, and Clerk. We'd like to know how Wyoming compares to other states with regard to these offices.
A free and easy way to start to change the complexion of decision making in Wyoming is to increase the number of women on appointed boards and commissions. Right now, on average, only about 1 in 3 of these appointments is a woman.
Two notable examples show how powerful it can be to achieve parity: The state of Iowa passed legislation seeking parity on boards and commissions. In Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti issued an executive order and achieved parity in 5 years.
These boards are a great way for citizens to engage with public service and can serve as a stepping stone to elected office. It is a simple and effective way to change the landscape. You can apply right here! And we're here to answer your questions on the process if you have any. Suffice it to say: You are prepared! Apply today!
ps: Check out Nick Reynolds' article in the Casper Star Tribune: As the nation elects more women to office, the Equality State falls behind.