NCSL Women's Legislative Network News for February 2017


Women's Legislative Network



From the Women’s Legislative Network, I wish you the best for your 2017 legislative sessions. I want to extend a special congratulations to all the women who are serving their very first term! I commend your devotion to public service, and I hope that you will call upon NCSL for information and support. Please contact me personally if I can be of any assistance.

This newsletter is intended to keep you informed about women in state legislatures, NCSL resources and noteworthy news. We welcome news from your state, so please submit any items that you’d like to share with women around the country.

The mission of the Women’s Legislative Network is to promote the participation, empowerment and leadership of women legislators. The network is bipartisan and includes every female legislator in the states and territories. I hope you will join us at a future event or share your ideas about what you’d like us to work on. Stay tuned for information about a leadership development meeting we will host later this year. And please mark your calendars for NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Boston, August 6-9. I look forward to meeting you!

Kristin Conzet
State Representative, South Dakota
President, Women’s Legislative Network of NCSL
Email me

Women's legislative network resources: Women in Politics

Women in State Legislatures 2017: Numbers Virtually Unchanged

2017 Map

There are about 1,830 women serving in the 50 state legislatures in 2017. The overall share of legislators who are women is 24.8 percent. Though a record number of women ran for state legislative seats last year, and this is the highest number of women ever, it is a very small increase from the 2016 numbers of 1,805 women and 24.4 percent. Review complete data here

For some context, the national share of women legislators reached 24 percent following the 2008 election, and 20 percent in 1992. For women to reach 25 percent­—one-quarter of all legislators—is a symbolic milestone that will have to wait for another election.

The states with the highest percentages of women legislators are Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Vermont. At the lower end are Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.

There are 66 women serving in major legislative leadership positions. Six women serve as speaker of the house, and there are five women serving as senate president or president pro tem.

New Project: A Handbook of Programs Supporting Women's Leadership

We need your help!

The network has hosted numerous focus groups, discussions and surveys among female legislators in recent years, and one point of common ground that arises is that legislators want to support more women running for office. We plan to offer a tool to make it easier for legislators to work with women in their communities. If you want to reach out to women, but don’t know where to start, we hope that we can help. The Women’s Legislative Network will develop a guidebook of programs and initiatives to support the leadership and political participation of women and girls. We intend this to be a handbook of sample initiatives that legislators can replicate and adapt in their own states.

We are interested in programs such as:

  • A legislator shadowing program for school-aged girls
  • A political essay contest for awards or scholarships
  • A speech given to audiences of women about how they can get involved in the political process
  • A women’s leadership development program run by a women’s caucus

We recognize that there are many wonderful trainings and programs organized by national groups (partisan and nonpartisan) and state political parties, but we are not seeking to include them here. We are interested in legislator-sponsored or legislator-originated programs that another individual legislator could replicate. 

Please share what you’ve done using our online form here.

News from State women's caucuses

There are at least 23 states with a women’s legislative caucus. Review NCSL’s list of state women’s caucuses here. If we have missed your state caucus, or you have any updates, please let us know.


The Hawaii women’s legislative caucus supports a package of bills every session. The caucus is composed of the female members of the house and senate and women serving on county councils. The 2017 package includes 35 bills and resolutions addressing opioid abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault, wage equity, family leave, tax credits, and child care. Review the caucus package here.


The Women’s Caucus of Maryland, founded in 1972, was the first state legislative women’s caucus in the nation. Today, the caucus has 67 members: all 60 women in the General Assembly, and seven men. The caucus has recently begun profiling its members with short, interesting questionnaires and videos. Their goal is to raise the profile of women in politics in the state. Review the profiles on the caucus’s Facebook page here.


WyomingCaucusThe Wyoming women’s legislative caucus is hosting the 10th annual Leap into Leadership conference Feb. 27-28. This year’s theme is “Inspiring Women to Lead.” The program features former Maine Senator Olympia Snowe and workshops about mentoring, civility, and campaigning. Program information is here.

NCSL Resources

Free Webinar March 10: Labor and Sex Trafficking State Update

WebinarHuman trafficking is a perennial issue for state lawmakers. Legislators are working with their colleagues in state government as well as other stakeholders to combat labor and sex trafficking while providing services to survivors. This webinar will highlight the legal and legislative perspectives behind innovative state policies. Visit the webinar page for information and to register here.
NCSL’s extensive resources about human trafficking are listed here.



New from NCSL: Scope of Practice Policy Website

The site provides nonpartisan, unbiased and objective policy information about the scope of practice laws in the 50 states, District of Columbia and territories. A health care provider’s scope of practice describes the procedures, actions and processes that a health care practitioner is permitted to undertake in keeping with the terms of his or her professional license.

On this website, you will find information regarding the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, physician assistants and oral health providers. There are interactive state policy maps for each practitioner in each state, D.C. and territory. The site also includes a legislation database that enables you to track scope of practice bills in each state, case studies in scope of practice policy and links to resources for additional information. Visit the site here.

Spotlight on NCSL’s Early Childhood Resources

ChildrenNCSL has a wealth of information about early child care and education. State lawmakers play an important role in advancing critical early childhood programs that support children’s healthy development and promote family well-being. Equipped with compelling brain research and strong economic and evaluation findings, lawmakers are working to improve access to and quality of early childhood services that are key to children’s development, school readiness, life success and family well-being. Visit the Early Childhood 101 page for an overview here and sign up for the quarterly newsletter here.
For a related report, visit the National Women’s Law Center Child Care and Early Learning center here.

New NCSL Autonomous Vehicles Legislation Database

Autonomous vehicles could be a significant part of the future of the automotive industry. As the technology for autonomous vehicles continues to develop, state governments are addressing the potential impacts of these vehicles on the road. Visit the database here.

Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities

This report represents the culmination of a yearlong joint task force effort of state policymakers convened by NCSL and the Council of State Governments (CSG) to address barriers to employment and develop policy solutions to build a thriving workforce that is disability inclusive. Through the work of the task force, state legislators, legislative staff and state executive branch representatives explored the causes of these barriers and devised bipartisan policy options supporting increased employment access and opportunity for people with disabilities. Read the report here.

New NCSL Podcast: Our American States

PodcastThe Our American States podcast is where you hear compelling conversations that tell the story of America’s state legislatures, the people in them, the politics that compel them, and the important work of democracy. Subscribe to Our American States with your podcast provider or visit the podcast page here.

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

The Women's Legislative Network Alliance is a partnership program of the Women's Legislative Network of NCSL. The Network Alliance includes individuals from associations, foundations, and corporations who assist the Network by providing consultation and financial support. We value corporations that support the mission of the Network, and thank the Alliance members for the contributions they make. Please contact Katie Ziegler for more information.

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