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

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

(Cheyenne, Wyo.) — Wyoming currently ranks 50th in percentage of women in its Legislature. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures , Wyoming is dead last in terms of female representation. In 2015, we were second to last to Louisiana, who has since increased the number of women in their government by 6%, while Wyoming stayed pretty much the same. In Sheridan County, Rep. Rosie Berger, HD 51, is the only Sheridan County female elected to the state government. Historically, there has never been a woman elected to state government from Johnson County, according to the Wyoming Legislator Database . Sheridan County fares a bit better, with the following: Katherine (Kathy) Coleman served in the House from 2012-14; Lynn Dickey served in the House from 1983-1990; Ruth Edelman served in the House in 1939; Della Herbst served in the House from 1983-1986 and the Senate from 1987-1992; and Virginia Wright served in the House from 1989-1994. To discuss women in elected office — or lack thereof — the ninth annual Leap into Leadership Conference is happening now in Cheyenne. 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 is discussing just that, as 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: Inline image 1] "Women are much less likely to run for office unless someone asks them to do it," said Senator Craft Thursday night. "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. Marguerite Herman adds that it's also an economic issue, as it costs a lot to take two months out of your time to be in Cheyenne to participate. Single mothers may not necessarily be able to afford it. Herman also mentioned a former representative from Gillette that would move her whole family, including her mother, to Cheyenne for the time she needed to be in the legislature. #dally #news