Record number of women in state legislatures

A record of at least 2,236 women will serve in state legislatures in 2021, according to data compiled by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

This surpasses the previous record, and current number, of 2,162 women in state legislative offices. For the first time in history, women will hold more than 30% of seats in state legislatures.

Women rally outside the US Supreme Court.

The data team at CAWP has prepared an analysis of women’s representation in state legislatures in the coming year, which includes data visualizations of 2021 numbers in comparison with current and recent numbers, data broken down by party and legislative chambers, and interactive tools that track women’s representation in state legislatures state-by-state.

This analysis will also provide the most up-to-date numbers as election outcomes are determined.

Some notable additional records and milestones from this analysis:

• At least 552 women will serve as state senators in 2021, beating the previous record of 521.

• At least 1,684 women will serve as state representatives in 2021, beating the previous record of 1,641.

• Republican women broke records for their overall representation in state legislatures (at least 739 vs. previous record of 706), as state senators (183 vs. 176), and as state representatives (556 vs. 541).

• Democratic women broke records for their overall representation in state legislatures (at least 1,480 vs. previous record 1,467) and as state senators (358 vs. 337), but are still short of their record for state representatives (1,122 vs. 1,130). They may yet break this record as final 2020 election results are determined.

• Nevada will continue to be the only state where women will make up more than 50% of its state legislators. Nevada became the first state to reach this milestone following the 2018 elections, when 52.4% of its legislators were women. That proportion increased to 54% during 2020, and in 2021, Nevada’s legislature will be 60.3% women, becoming the first state in history to cross the sixty-percent threshold. Nevada will also be the first state where both legislative chambers are majority women.

• Women will be the majority in at least six state legislative chambers: Colorado House, Nevada House, Nevada Senate, New Mexico House, Oregon House, and Rhode Island Senate. Prior to this, women have made up 50% or more of seats in a state legislative body just three times in history: the New Hampshire Senate from 2009-2010, the Nevada House from 2019 to the present, and the Colorado House in 2019.

There were 76 women in contests that remained too close to call when this article was prepared for publication, so the total is likely to change once those races are resolved.

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