The other aspect of the political activity of women, which I would like to discuss in this paper, is legislative one. It should be mentioned that women gained their right to vote in 1920. However, even before that time there were a couple of cases, when women were elected to legislatures. Gradually, the proportion of female state legislators grew up to 4. 5 % in 1971 and 22. 4 % in 2004. The greatest rate of growth was observed from 1970s to 1980s, but slowed down in the 1990s. In 2004 the number of women serving in legislatures was 1655, which is even less than in 1990s, when 1664 women were in legislative sphere (Carroll, 2004).
Proportion of women legislators is not homogeneous all over the country. The first place is occupied by Washington, which has 36. 7 female legislators, the second belongs to Colorado with 34 %, Maryland has 33. 5 % of women in legislature, Vermont takes the third place having 31. 1 % of women in legislature, closely followed by Oregon and California, both of which have 30 % of female legislators. Several researches were undertaken to determine the reasons of higher participation of women in legislature in these states, however, no explanations were found (Norrander & Wilcox, 1998).
Among the states with the lowest participation of women in legislature are the following ones: South Carolina with only 9. 4 %, Alabama with 10 %, Kentucky with 10. 9 %, Mississippi with 12. 6 % and Oklahoma with 12. 8 %. This statistics gives us the vivid picture that southern states are notorious for lowest participation of women in legislature. The only exclusion belongs to Florida with 25 % of women legislators, which is even higher than the national average (Carroll, 2004). Let’s have a closer look at the situation with the representation of women in senate.
In early 2004 the number of women holding all senate seats was 410, which constituted 20. 8 %. The number of women holding all house senate seats was 1245, or 23 % (Carroll, 2004). The general tendency is that during the last decade legislative seats are more or less evenly divided between two parties. However, the situation is different with women legislators. The number of women Republicans in state senate decreased from 38. 7 % to 34. 4 % since 1988 and from 41. 4 % to 40. 2 % for state representatives (Moncrief, Squire & Jewell, 2001).
Among female state legislators 18.4 % are women of color. The tendency is the same among these women – 39. 4 % (86 out of 218) of them are Democrats and only 17 are Republican (Carroll, 2004). The situation is uneven among different races. Thus, African American women take 57 seats in state senate and 156 seats in state houses in 37 states. The second place is occupied by Latinas, who have 19 senate and 39 house seats in 14 different states. The third place belongs to Asian American women, who are concentrated in seven states and are represented by seven senators and 16 representatives.
Native American is the least represented group, consisting of only nine women in four states, who take one senate and eight house seats (Carroll, 2004). Statistic Data of women representation on the political arena of the USA One of the most important questions of this paper is the dependence between gender and electoral success. The history shows that the first woman Jeanette Rankin was elected in Congress in 1916. However, this has not led to the considerable progress in the representation of women in politics. Thus, in 1970s the number of women in Congress was still very low – only 10 %.
And even those women, who were elected there, were not “self-starters”. Mostly they were elected after the death of their husbands or after the latter lost their right for reelection (Gaddie and Bullock, 2000). However, the situation with the women representation in politics has improved over the last decade. We can observe the great increase of the number of women, who run for and attain their political position. Thus, last year women were represented by the number of 14 in the U. S. Senate and 67 in the U. S. House of Representatives.
Although this number is not that big, still it is a great achievement as it is eight times more than the number of women on these positions after the World War Two and a three times more than several decades ago. In spite this minor progress, men still constitute the overwhelming majority in the United States Congress holding 86 % of seats (CAWP, 2006). The other grieve fact is that the USA occupies the 60th place in the world in the percentage of women, represented in the national legislature (Inter-Parliamentary Union 2004). In this paper I relied greatly on the findings of the other research conducted by Lawless and Pearson.