National Women, Democratic Women's State, Virginia discussed on The Electorette Podcast
I'm Jen Taylor skinner. And this is the electorate on this episode. Had Conversation with Julie Kohler. She's a fellow at the National Women's law center since she joined to discuss a new analysis that the recently published showing that women are more effective state. Legislators men now. I've seen similar studies in the past about how women in politics are generally more prolific. They passed more bills et CETERA. But I've never seen the data at the state legislative level and this is important because everyone in politics right now is focused on winning state legislatures and I've done at least a half dozen episodes on this topic this year alone because a lot of people have come to realize that winning state legislative races is the key to passing more bills like paid family leave or expanding voting rights and Mike passing the equal rights amendment and this new analysis from the National Women's law center is just another way to think about what can be accomplished with greater legislative power and what women specifically can accomplish with that power. So here's my conversation with Julie. Cooler Julie Kohler welcome to the cast. Thank you thanks so much for having me. So the National Women's law center you conducted an analysis that that uncovered that women were more effective and more prolific state. Legislators than men. And you know. I'm kind of familiar with this research because I think a few years ago. There was an analysis. Done that uncovered similar data right. But I don't think anything's been done recently. And specifically looking at women in State legislators. Is that true? Yeah that's exactly right. I've been really interested. Post Twenty Eighteen. At what is transpiring in the wake of these really record gains and political representation for women. And there's been a lot of focus on the changes in Congress and the role of newly elected women in the house both in taking back democratic control of the house but also and kind of. What's what the issues that they're advancing. But it's in the states where the gains political representation are actually even more dramatic and so I was curious in looking at the states because I think they provide a really important window into you know. The effects of more reflective representation on policy outcomes in examining. What are we seen in states? Now that we're seeing a real gains and tremendous variety across states and a huge range in terms of women's representation. You're absolutely right and just to go over some of the numbers I mean. We've made some significant inroads at the state level. So I think that in two thousand eighteen. There's been what a three-point gain and legislative seats for women. Yes over the last two years we've seen so now we're at twenty nine percent in terms of women's representation overall across all of the States in Congress about twenty three percent but then we're seeing real tremendous disparity across states and so for example in two thousand. Eighteen Nevada became the very first state to have a majority women's Day legislature the first in the country right so I think in two thousand eighteen. Three hundred seats gained by women. Is that right? Dozens laws all of the gains in two thousand eighteen were due to democratic women so it wasn't just women across the board. It was really women based on political party so while there were pickups at in the state legislature of over three hundred seats for Democratic Women. Republican women actually lost forty more than forty seats in two thousand eighteen. So all of the gains in representation have been as a result of democratic women's victories. While I WANNA talk about the difference in the party's there in a minute because that's that's really interesting but I don't want to forget about Virginia. I don't know if you've mentioned Virginia yet but that was really important because I think it was about a month ago. Maybe three weeks ago. That Virginia became the thirty eighth state to ratify the equal rights amendment the era and that was specifically because of these gains at the state level by women. There was I lean for corn rights. And you know you WanNa talk about Virginia absolutely absolutely so you know in a in over the last couple election cycles we've seen real transformations in the composition of the Virginia legislature both the House of delegates and the Senate not only have Democrats taken back control of both Both houses but we've really seen transformations women's leadership so a record forty women. Now serve in Virginia House of Delegates. As you mentioned they now have the first woman speaker With Eileen filler Corn Selection as speaker of the House of delegates and we have the first black woman in As serving as majority leader in the House of delegates there's just leadership and reflective representation across the board Danika. Rome became the first transgender woman to chair a committee in the Virginia House delegates. So we're really seeing just kind of historic firsts. All across the country in terms of women's representation. Do we have any idea of what's happening with Republican women and why it's kind of the reverse of what's happening with with democratic women right because they think that the analysis uncovered also that as far as like all the groups that you looked at Democratic men Democratic Women Republican Republican women to women are on top as far as being the most effective the most prolific and at the very bottom or on the other end of the spectrum are Republican women. Is that right? Yeah yeah so maybe I can. I talk about kind of what we found in terms of the patterns and I'd love to go into the the issue of of of corporate in greater detail to the National Women's law center partnered with Corum. Corum is a public affairs software platform to run some new analyses. And what we wanted to do was really look at how women state. Legislators were faring. These last two years and what we found Several things so first of all women state legislators introduced more bills and some more of their legislation enacted than their male counterparts. And as we said as you mentioned at the beginning of the interview that actually replicates other findings that have found that women legislators tend to be more productive or effective in passing legislation than men but we also found was that greater representation of women was associated with greater productivity overall so legislators all legislators serving in chambers that had greater levels of representation of women's representation introduced passed more bills in the last two legislative sessions than those serving in legislatures with fewer women. So in other words there was an overall effect. There was an overall benefit to having more diverse legislatures Also I think this was the question that you asked about party differences. We really did find that. This was that the productivity was not just a function of gender but was really the intersection of gender political party Democratic Women's State. Legislators introduced bills some more their bills enacted than democratic men than Republican men and Republican women alike and finally democratic women were also more likely to champion legislation that supports women in their families and to get the legislature passed so for example in Twenty Nineteen Democratic Women State legislators introduced successfully enacted bills on paid family. Leave on child care sexual harassment minimum wage than any other group of state legislators so the benefit that interplay with. Liberal Party is one that I think really does warrant more discussion and I think what was interesting. And certainly noteworthy was that when we looked at comparing the four groups of state legislators. Democratic Women introduced in enacted the highest number of bills and the group that introduced and enacted the lowest number of bills. Was Republican women so that was particularly striking difference that it wasn't just a function of gender but that it really seemed to be the interplay between gender and political party. I would imagine that it would be really hard to determine why that is. I mean. I'm just really curious myself that. What is it about the difference in culture between the two parties and the women in both parties? That would make that difference and we do. We know that we know for certain but we can. Certainly I think speculate one of the other things that I've been doing is over the past year. I've been interviewing a number of women state. Legislators about their experiences and I've talked to democratic women. They've all been democratic women. I've spoken to them Women serving in democratic majorities and Republican. Majorities you know in widely different states with wildly different political cultures so content of a good sense of some of the dynamics that they're experiencing. I will say that numbers of democratic women. Newly elected democratic women also have really noted that they're serving in chambers where the leadership really supported them and was open and receptive to the contributions of new. Legislators really kind of empowered them encourage them now. This is of course not a experience across the board but it was noteworthy that many e and really kind of you know coming into legislative cultures. That was that. Were excited about mentoring..