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Republish it! But please do not edit the piece. Also make sure that you attribute the author, and mention the article was originally published on Scholars Strategy Network. \u003Cem\u003EBy copying and pasting the markup below you will be adhering to these guidelines.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022\/republishing-ssn-articles\u0022\u003EView additional guideline details.\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Ctextarea\u003E\n \u003Cdiv about=\u0022\/brief\/uneven-presence-women-and-minorities-americas-state-legislatures-and-why-it-matters\u0022 typeof=\u0022sioc:Item foaf:Document\u0022 class=\u0022ds-1col node node-brief view-mode-stealourcontent_node clearfix\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ch2\u003E\n The Uneven Presence of Women and Minorities in America\u0027s State Legislatures - And Why It Matters\n \u003C\/h2\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/scholar\/beth-reingold\u0022\u003EBeth Reingold\u003C\/a\u003E, Emory University\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EWomen and minorities have made major gains in the ranks of elected U.S. public office-holders \u2013 but at all levels of government the progress has been incomplete and uneven. Consider, for example, America\u2019s fifty state legislatures. Forty years ago, one would have been hard-pressed to find anyone other than a white man serving in any of these legislatures, yet women and various minorities now claim about one-third of the seats. But there are big variations across the states.\u003Cbr\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EBy now, women are about 24% of all state legislators, yet their contingents range from ten percent in South Carolina to forty percent in Colorado. African American legislators average 8.1% overall, but the largest contingents (ranging from 20% to 23%) appear in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama. Latinos are only 2.9% of all state legislators, and they are concentrated in New Mexico, Texas, California, New York, Nevada, and Arizona.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EApart from population ratios, why do state legislatures vary in diversity \u2013 and what difference does it make? Political scientists have made progress in answering these important questions.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EOpportunities for Women\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EAfter it became socially acceptable for women to run for office, some observers believed they would make steady progress as male incumbents retired, lost bids for re-election, or moved on to higher posts. But it turns out that states with higher turnover, including states with term limits, have not seen greater gains for women legislators. Other barriers and challenges remain.\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003EWomen make less office-holding progress in states with traditional cultures and strong, male-dominated party organizations.\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003EFemale legislators have a stronger presence in states with more liberal electorates and more women in non-traditional social positions. Women are more likely to run for office in such settings and party leaders, voters, and interest groups are more willing to support them.\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003EWomen have a greater presence in \u201ccitizen\u201d legislatures that meet infrequently and pay low stipends to their part-time, nonprofessional officeholders. States with multi-member legislative districts also tend to elect more women. Perhaps women find entry easier when the offices are less powerful and there are multiple winners.\u0026nbsp;\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EOvercoming Racial and Ethnic Exclusion\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EThe Voting Rights Act of 1965 \u2013 and the subsequent use of its provisions to monitor the removal of electoral barriers \u2013 has propelled state legislatures toward more closely reflecting the racial and ethnic diversity of state populations. With their rights legally protected, minority electorates can and almost always do elect minority representatives \u2013 especially when legislative districts are deliberately designed to encompass majorities of minority voters.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EThe current situation could be an artificial ceiling for minority legislators, however. To this day, majority-white districts almost always elect white candidates. In the mid-1990s, the Supreme Court began to place limits on the deliberate use of race and ethnicity in drawing district boundaries. Until tools are found to mitigate racial fears and racially polarized voting, dispersing minority voters could cause them to have less leverage in electing minority legislators.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003EWhy Female and Minority Legislators Matter\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EProponents of getting more women and minorities into public office presume that they \u201cmake a difference.\u201d Scholarly studies have tested various hypotheses and pinpointed key ways in which the presence of female and minority officeholders really does matter.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EMost basically, when female and minority citizens see women or co-ethnics in office, they become more politically engaged and empowered. A significant female presence in the legislature increases the chance that women will tell survey researchers they feel they have political influence. Similarly, fellow minorities in office boost African American and Latino voter turnout \u2013 and among Latinos at least, alleviate feelings of political alienation. In all these ways, legislative diversity serves to enhance democratic representation and encourage more inclusive civic engagement.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EInside legislatures, female and minority representatives sponsor distinctive kinds of bills:\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003EWomen are more likely than men to introduce legislation about women\u2019s rights and reproductive health choices, and also bills dealing with children, health care, and welfare.\u0026nbsp;\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003EAfrican American state legislators are more likely (even compared to other Democrats or other representatives with similar constituencies) to introduce measures to combat racial discrimination and boost the socioeconomic and political status of African Africans, as well as measures generally aimed at improving education, health care, and social welfare.\u0026nbsp;\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003ELatino legislators are most active on issues related to immigration, language learning, and opportunities for migrant laborers.\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003E\n What about the final votes? The effect of diversity is more ambiguous when it comes to legislative outcomes. One comprehensive study finds that higher percentages of women in state legislatures are associated with the adoption of only eight out of 34 \u201cwomen-friendly\u201d types of policies. Child support and abortion rights get a boost, according to other studies, but not action to further women\u2019s health or protect women from domestic violence.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003E\n Yet numerous studies demonstrate that racial and ethnic diversity in state legislatures can result in very significant policy changes on behalf of minority interests. In particular, when powerful leadership positions go to minority legislators \u2013 especially to women of color \u2013 the prospects improve for legislation to expand access to social-welfare programs and increase benefit levels. Clearly, the growing clout of women and minority legislators can make a difference.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\u0022brief-footer-comments\u0022\u003E\n Read more in Beth Reingold, \u201cLegislative Diversity,\u201d in \u003Cem\u003EGuide to State Politics and Policy\u003C\/em\u003E, edited by Richard G. Niemi and Joshua J. Dyck (Congressional Quarterly Press, 2013).\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Ctable border=\u00220\u0022 align=\u0022left\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/scholarsstrategynetwork.org\u0022\u003Ewww.scholarstrategynetwork.org\u003C\/a\u003E\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Ctable border=\u00220\u0022 align=\u0022right\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n October 2012\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cp\u003EThis article was originally published on \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/\u0022\u003EScholars Strategy Network\u003C\/a\u003E. Read the \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/brief\/uneven-presence-women-and-minorities-americas-state-legislatures-and-why-it-matters\u0022\u003Eoriginal article\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cimg height=\u00221\u0022 width=\u00221\u0022 typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/stealourcontent\/track.gif?nid=1109\u0022 alt=\u0022\u0022 \/\u003E \u003C\/textarea\u003E\n\n \u003Cp\u003ECopy the above code and paste it into your website or CMS to republish.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n"}]