has a study out this week reporting that 12 states across the country have no women serving in top legislative roles in 2020.

Overall, women fill just 22% of leadership roles — defined as state house and assembly speakers, state senate presidents, and the majority and minority leaders in each chamber — in state legislatures.

“Among other duties, they have the power to determine the makeup of committees, assign bills to committees, develop legislative calendars, and act as the voice of the chamber or their party,” the study explains.

The state with the highest percentage of women in leadership roles is Oregon with 67%.

Rep Della Au Belatti speaks flanked by Speaker Scott Scott Saiki and left, Rep Nakashima at a press conference  held after Governor Ige’s state of the state address.

House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti at a press conference at the Capitol in January 2019. Hawaii lags many states in terms of the percentage of women in top legislative roles.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The 12 states that have zero women in top legislative jobs are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

How does Hawaii compare?

We have 17% of women in top roles at the Legislature, far behind other states in the west like California (50%) and Washington State (33%) but tied with Alaska.

Why is this important?

“Research has shown that, overall, women and men have differing legislative priorities and these differences have real impacts on their constituency,” says “Women lawmakers are much more likely to introduce legislation on issues that deal with women, children, and families than are their male counterparts. As a result, women in leadership roles, where they are determining the merits of new bills and setting legislative agendas, are more likely to champion legislation around women’s issues.”

The analysis is a collaboration with the Center for American Women and Politics.

Before you go . . .

Everyone at Civil Beat feels the weight of heightened responsibility. For the past several months our nonprofit newsroom has worked beyond our normal capacity to provide accurate information, push for accountability, amplify smart ideas and new voices, and double down on facts and context to write deeply reported local stories.

The truth is, our evolution as a public service news organization over the past 10 years has prepared us for this moment in time, when what we do matters the most.

Reader support keeps our small newsroom afloat. If you value the work of our journalists, please consider making a tax-deductible gift.

About the Author