New Report: Key Policy Changes Would Ensure More Wyoming Women in Elected Office

February 26, 2021

The Wyoming Women’s Foundation, in partnership with the Equality State Policy Center, today released a policy brief on Wyoming Women in Elected Roles. The six-page report was prepared by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming. It is part of a series of briefs the partners are working on to examine the current status of women in various areas that impact economic self-sufficiency.

Although women make up nearly half the population in Wyoming, they make up a far smaller percentage of elected officials: just 18% of Wyoming legislators are women. This brief report explores some of the reasons women are underrepresented, structural barriers women face to holding office, and possible solutions that would make running and serving in office more accessible to women.

The report comes as Women’s History Month begins on Monday, March 1, and is a reminder of women’s history in elected office in Wyoming. March 1 is also the day the Wyoming Legislature reconvenes for the 2021 General Session. Sixteen of its members are currently women.

“My male co-sponsors could not have been finer advocates, but a woman’s voice is different; a woman brings a different perspective: different thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs. If our democracy is to be truly representative, all our voices must be heard, and heard equally.”

-Rev. Dr. Bernadine Craft,
Wyoming House of Representatives 2007-2013, Wyoming Senate 2013-2017

Both organizations and the researcher are nonpartisan, and the brief explains the importance of representation—regardless of party. The brief also offers policy recommendations that support electing more women.

The Wyoming Women’s Foundation’s mission is to invest in economic self-sufficiency for women and opportunities for girls. WYWF has an interest in women’s voices being heard and part of the policy conversations in Wyoming. An increase in women serving in elected leadership positions would be positive for this mission in several ways.

“The outcomes of policy making will be different with elected leaders who mirror the gender demographics of Wyoming’s population,” said Rebekah Smith, director of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation. “Serving in elected office puts power in the hands of those serving, and such empowerment can lead to better economic opportunities for those women. Normalizing leadership for women will have positive impacts on self-sufficiency for women and girls. We already see this in other states.”

Share of women in the Wyoming Legislature, 1975-present

Jen Simon, ESPC Senior Policy Analyst and director of the Gender Lens Project, agrees. She elaborated by saying that gains in other states could happen in Wyoming, too. “In Nevada and Colorado, we’ve seen the tremendous successes that come from electing more women to public office. Those women have changed the policy conversation and those changes are improving the lives of women and girls.” ESPC is committed to improving the lives of all Wyoming’s people through transparent government, fair elections, and thriving communities.

On March 18th from 5-6pm, ESPC’s monthly People’s Review: Live! will feature Wyoming women in elected office: Auditor Kristi Racines, Casper City Councilor Amber Pollock, House Minority Whip Andi Clifford, and Rep. Sandy Newsome, along with RepresentWomen’s CEO Cynthia Richie Terrell. Former Rep. Sara Burlingame will moderate. The panel will discuss the brief’s findings, and panelists will share their personal experiences and talk about state and national context related to women in elected office.

Visit Governor Gordon’s website to review the state boards and commissions and reach out to Pamela Perea at (307) 777-7434 or pamela.perea@wyo.gov for more information and to connect women you know to apply.

About the Wyoming Women’s Foundation

Established in 1999, the Wyoming Women’s Foundation (WYWF) is one of a family of funds held at the Wyoming Community Foundation. WYWF makes grants and spearheads initiatives that benefit women and girls as well as our communities overall. As a statewide leader dedicated to promoting women and girls, we leverage funds through our endowment, and grantmaking is focused on lasting change. The mission of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation is to invest in the economic self-sufficiency of women and opportunities for girls in Wyoming. Since 1999, WYWF has made more than $1 million in grants to nonprofits advancing self-sufficiency for Wyoming women and girls. More at wywf.org.

About the Equality State Policy Center

The Equality State Policy Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition comprised of more than 30 labor, social justice, and conservation organizations. ESPC’s mission is to improve the lives of all Wyoming’s people through transparent government, fair elections, and thriving communities. More at equalitystate.org/about. More at Equalitystate.org.

About the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center

The Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming seeks to provide clear, accurate, and useful information to decision-makers through applied social research, scientific polling, information technology services, and rigorous program evaluation. Without bias and with the highest standards of validity, WYSAC collects, manages, analyzes, and reports data through research contracts for the public and private sector in Wyoming and throughout the nation. More at wysac.uwyo.edu/wysac.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *