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California Women Underrepresented In Elected Office

California Legislative Women's Caucus

Former State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny

California Legislative Women's Caucus

Women make up half of California’s population, but a new study shows they are underrepresented in state and local elected office.

The study commissioned by The Leadership California Institute finds women make up less than 30 percent of state, county and city elected officials. On average they tend to lean Democratic and are largely white.

Maria Mejia was a lead researcher on the study. She says there is one area where women have broken through the 30 percent ceiling

“They are closer to 47 percent at the school board level,” she says. “Which means that we, in California at least, have come much closer to achieving gender parity, if you will, at the school board level.”

Mejia says this is the first time this data on women in local office has been collected.

“What we don’t know, however, because this is sort of the first data set of its kind, is whether that 30 percent at the county and city level whether that’s actually an improvement or whether it’s fallen,” she says.

The report finds of the more than 400 cities in California, 51 have city councils with female majorities. 69 cities don’t have any women on their councils. Los Angeles has one woman and 14 men.

The study found 75 percent of women in the state legislature served in local government first.