Isabelle Smith ’21
Major: Political Science
Faculty Collaborator: Dana Wolfe, Political Science
Forty-seven percent of the Colorado legislature is currently women. This is the highest percentage of women in state politics that Colorado has ever had, and the second highest ever recorded across the United States (only bested by Nevada, whose legislature is currently 52% women). While pundits and academics alike are celebrating such an accomplishment, there is still a dearth of information about how and why this happened. Moreover, there is a lack of attention paid to the nuances of these numbers, particularly when it comes to partisanship. While women as a whole have successfully increased their numbers, there is a significant disparity between Democratic and Republican women. In 2019, there are 12 Democratic women and one Republican woman in the Colorado Senate, and 26 Democratic women and 8 Republican women in the House. Interestingly, this pattern seems to have shifted sizably over the last twenty years. In 2000, Republican women outnumbered Democratic women in both chambers of the legislature. Since that time, the overall number of Republican women in the legislature has actually decreased by ten seats. Put differently, while Democratic women have flourished since the turn of the century, Republican women have stagnated. This project will attempt to fill these gaps in the literature by investigating the ways in which women navigate the legislative pipeline in Colorado. Through interviews with current and former officeholders, campaign managers, non-profits, and policy stakeholders, we will think about how and why women as a whole have been so successful. We will also consider why this success has been continent on partisanship.