Girl Power: Female leadership in the state legislature remains


Recently the St. Paul Legal Ledger took the time to document Minnesota's future leaders. The conclusion: Woman continue to rock the state senate and house.

Seventy women were elected this session out of the 201 seats available. While the same number as 2007, the paper reports that women have come miles from where female politicians were in the 1970s when in Minnesota they only occupied up to 2.5 percent of the seats.

The Ledger reports:

That is the highest number of legislative seats held by women in Minnesota history, according to the Office on the Economic Status of Women.

Twenty-seven of the 67 seats in the state Senate and 43 of the 134 seats in the House will be held by women when the session begins Jan. 6. Six women will serve their first terms in the House, and one in the Senate.

Women became eligible to vote and run for election to the Minnesota Legislature in 1922. Until 1970, the percentage of the Legislature composed of women ranged from zero to 2.5 percent; that percentage increased steadily from 3 percent in 1972 to 27.4 percent in 1992. The number reached 61 in 1996, shrank slightly in 1998, 2000 and 2002, and rose again in 2004 to 60 before reaching 70 in 2006.

Last year the Minnesota Daily reported that Minnesota ranked 4th in the nation in terms of female House and Senate leadership. The state trailed Vermont, New Hampshire and Colorado.

Quoting Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, the Daily reports:

"At one time I said that for a woman to get somewhere, she has to be twice as good as a man. I don't think that's true anymore," said Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis. "There is a new class of legislators; highly competent people of both sexes. The Legislature isn't an old boys' club anymore."

Kahn said when she first ran for a seat in 1972, there was one woman in the state legislature. Six more women were elected that year, including Kahn, and since then the number of female legislators has continued to grow.