Leap into Leadership discusses women's role in the Wyoming Legislature

(Cheyenne, Wyo.) Wyoming is known as the Equality State, but in one area in particular, we are severely lacking in just that. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Wyoming is dead last in terms of female representation in the state legislature. In 2015, we were second to last to Louisiana, who has since increased the number of women in their state legislature by 6%, while Wyoming stayed pretty much the same. Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote, serve on juries, and hold public office. So why is Bernadine Craft the only woman in our senate? Why are only 11 out of 60 house representatives women? Leap into Leadership decided to hold a forum this afternoon to discuss it, part of an independent class project undertaken by members of Leadership Wyoming Class of 2016. Senator Bernadine Craft, Representative Ruth Ann Petroff, political scientist Dr. James King, Casper Star-Tribune's Joan Barron, and lobbyist Marguerite Herman, who is on the Board of Directors for the Wyoming League of Women Voters, made up a panel that talked about why there's been a sharp decline in female politicians in Wyoming since the 90s. [image: bernadine.png] "Women are much less likely to run for office unless someone asks them to do it," said Senator Craft. "That's what happened with me, I was asked. [...] The thing that frightened me the most about running for public office was running 'against' someone. I've been fortunate because in all my years I've only had two contested races, from gentlemen that didn't really differ from me much on the issues, but they were both very, very cordial." She went on to discuss the one female representative that has children at home, and what a huge responsibility it is to balance your day job, your family, and being a citizen representative. Campbell County's own lone female representative, Norine Kasperik, was unable to attend the forum, but is wholeheartedly behind bringing more female representation aboard. "I encourage women to run at every level of government – local, county, state and beyond," representative Kasperik told County 17. "Currently we have about a 50/50 split for men and women and there should be a women in every race. I look forward to a time when our elected offices reflect our demographics. Everyone has a unique perspective to add to the debate and it needs to be fostered." "Leap into Leadership is a great program to encourage those who are considering more involvement in their communities and in elected office," she added. "It offers mentorship, collegiality and connections throughout Wyoming." The forum is streaming now from Wyoming Public Radio: #county17 #news