Here's this week's fun fact to impress your friends: Nevada stands on the brink of national political history. Following that state's June primaries, the possibility now exists that the state Legislature there could emerge from the November elections with women lawmakers outnumbering the men.
That would be a first in the U.S., The New York Times pointed out. It's a reminder of just how far we've come — and how far we still have to go.
Nearly a generation has passed since the much-ballyhooed "Year of the Woman" in 1992 when voters sent more women to Washington than ever before. A record 47 women were elected to the House that year following the wildly divisive confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Four women won seats in the Senate.
But we still have work to do. In fact, in some ways, the number of women officeholders remains utterly unremarkable. “Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We’re not a fad, a fancy or a year.” Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland said then.
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Of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate, just 23 are women. Of the 435 members of the House, 84 are women. Of the 50 governors, females hold six of the offices.
In Kansas, from 1966 to 2015, at least one woman held statewide office. But that's no longer the case. This year, in fact, Democrat Laura Kelly remains the only woman running for the state's highest office.
Of the 7,383 state legislators nationwide, 1,876 are women. Kansas has the 18th highest ratio with 28 percent of its legislative seats held by women. Missouri, where women hold 23 percent of the seats, ranks 31st in the country.
Missouri has yet to elect a woman governor. This country has yet to elect a woman president.
Look what we're missing out on. Women officeholders offer something that men do not. They have different priorities than their male colleagues. Political scientists have found that they are more likely to pursue legislation that specifically benefits women — such as measures addressing equal pay, health care and housing, just to name a few.
Studies have shown that they run to get something done as opposed to running merely to win the office. "Something got them angry enough or frustrated enough that they decided they needed to be the person at the table making that decision," Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University told The Times.
And they are seen as more adept at compromise (though the research here is mixed).
"I think if we were in charge of the Senate and of the administration that we would have a budget deal by now,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins told ABC News in 2011. "What I find is, with all due deference to our male colleagues, that women's styles tend to be more collaborative."
All of this strikes us as reasons to consider electing more women to public office this year. Imagine a political system more concerned with actual accomplishments than raw ambition, a system where compromise isn't viewed as unholy. We like all of that.
Yes, there are caveats. Joan Finney, the first woman to become governor of Kansas, wasn't a success. Susan Wagle, the first female president of the Kansas Senate, has struggled. Research also shows that conservative women running for office have to run even further to the right than their male counterparts to prove their conservative credentials.
Still, we're rooting for Nevada to make history this year. After all, we've never tried it before.