Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type



Division of Resource Economics & Management


Over a century has passed since the first women were elected to state legislature positions in 1894. Research shows that women are more successful in these positions as they have greater chances of bridging party lines and are more likely to enact policies representative of diverse needs. Despite this, women today account for the majority of the population but less than one-third of state legislature positions nationwide. Research seeking to understand this gap is limited; hence, there is a need for increased studies regarding what factors contribute to more women being elected to these positions. This study uses a dynamic model to analyze data from each state during the years 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010 to determine the demographic factors that contribute to higher percentages of women in elected legislature positions. Results from this study indicate that the biggest factor in the election of women in state legislature positions is whether a state has historically had high percentages of female elected officials. Other significant factors include the education level of a state’s population and the political views of each state, with populations who have attended at least some college or who are more likely to vote Democrat having a higher population of female representatives.