(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
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
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.
"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
The forum is streaming now from Wyoming Public Radio: