Since her announcement earlier this year, Nevada Assemblywomen Lucy Flores has been grabbing national headlines with her race for the lieutenant governor seat–a race that could dismantle U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s power in Congress. If Flores loses to Republican Mark Hutchison, many believe that will spur Gov. Brian Sandoval to run against Reid in 2016, since the governor’s office will be left in the hands of a Republican.
Other than the potential power struggle, Flores’ candidacy got us wondering how many women are represented in their state’s governments. If the Democrat wins, she will join 11 other women in this election cycle to serve as lieutenant governor. In the event that she would become governor, she would join only five other women. Considering that many politicians who run for higher executive offices start in their state legislatures, we examined how many women are currently serving in their states.
Eleni Parashos and Amber Sampson contributed to the reporting for this infographic.
For the map above, we counted all the current female legislative members, including the upper and lower houses, in all 50 states. Then, we divided that number by the state’s total number of legislative members to get the percentage of women in proportion to the entire legislative body. The size of the circle represents the size of the legislative body.
What we found is that women are more represented on the west coast, southwest and a sliver of the northeast than in the Midwest and south. On average, women make up 24 percent of states’ legislatures, slightly more than the United States Congress where women are 19 percent.
Nevada ranks just above that average at 29 percent, but falls below its neighbors California, Arizona and Oregon, all in the low 30 percent range. Colorado has the most female legislators at 42 percent. Louisiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma all tie for last place with women making up 13 percent.