05/12 - Louisiana’s Legislature: Where Are the Women?

More than half the population of Louisiana – 51% -- is female. Yet, only 11 % of the state’s Legislators are women. Why?

Why have the number of female Legislators decreased in recent years, and what gets left out of the deliberative process when nearly all of the lawmakers are men? Does the fairer sex provide points of view innately different than those of their male counterparts – especially in the areas of child welfare, family policy and juvenile justice? Join Louisiana Public Square as it examines “Louisiana’s Legislature: Where Are the Women?” airing May 23rd at 7 p.m. on LPB HD.


In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote was ratified and added to the U.S. Constitution. Sixteen years later, Doris Holland became Louisiana’s first woman legislator, appointed by the governor and then elected by voters to the State Senate seat of her deceased husband. Despite the achievement, the National Women’s History Museum notes Louisiana was the last of the states to elect a female lawmaker. It wasn’t until 1971 that the first African-American woman was elected to the State House of Representatives, Dorothy Mae Taylor. This was one year after Louisiana finally ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, originally rejecting it in 1920.

While the number of women elected to the state legislature has dramatically increased over the years, the most recent election cycle saw a decrease in female representation. The decline falls across all categories: Democrats and Republicans, black and white, Senate and House.

Women account for 51% of the state’s population. The 2011 legislature had 23 women serving. The current 2012 body has just 16 females representing Louisiana’s 2,314,080 women. This month “Louisiana Public Square” explores why the number of female legislators has decreased in recent years, and what gets left out of the deliberative process when nearly all of the lawmakers are men.

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Our Panelists:

Women's Political Resources

The 2012 Project
Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics initiative

She Should Run
National movement to encourage more women to run for office

Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus
Includes statistics on women representation in government

Louisiana Federation of Democratic Women
Contacts for Louisiana Democratic women

Louisiana Federation of Republican Women
Political organization info for Republican women

Nicholls University Center for Women and Government
Promotes the leadership of women by providing resources and non-partisan support

New Leaders Council Louisiana
Louisiana chapter of national group training progressive leaders

We want to know your opinion! Leave your comments in the box below.

I enjoyed watching the panel discussion on Louisiana’s Legislature: Where Are The Women? Very informative and it was good to here their perspectives on why they ran for office and the need for more women to run.

Posted by tonya bolden-ball  on  05/30  at  10:03 AM

I watched this program and it again highlights the good old boys (elected officials) who make it difficult for women to feel comfortable in the current selfish environment. I believe the day will come when our elected officials will be nearly equal in males and females, but Mary Landrieu has been very successful in bridging the gap meanwhile. Perhaps she could be invited on a program to encourage more female candidates for both major parties.
Tom O’Brien

Posted by Tom O'Brien  on  05/30  at  10:05 AM
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