By Cynthia Richie Terrell on October 15, 2014
By Leada Gore
Alabama has climbed out of the basement in a ranking of the number of women who hold elected office in the state.
Representation 2020 assigned all 50 states a gender parity score from 0 to 100 showing the number of women who hold local, state and national-level offices. The goal is a score of 50, meaning men and women are equally represented in all offices.
Representation 2020 said no state has ever achieved the equal parity score of 50. Twenty-two states have a score of less than 15 for 2013. The median parity score for all states this year was 15.84, up from 9.45 in 1993.
That same level of increase was seen in Alabama. From 1993 to 2013, the number of women holding elected office rose six-fold from 2.0 to 12.0. That boosts Alabama from its worst in the country rating up to 36th in the nation. That level of progress doesn't mean gender equality in elected office will happen quickly, however. It would take 76 more years for Alabama to reach gender parity if the state continues on page.
In turn, it would take the country as a whole 106 years to reach gender parity.
"Most of Alabama's improvement has come from its recent willingness to elect women to lower level state executive offices," Representation 2020 noted. "Two of the last three lieutenant-governors, secretaries of state and presidents of the public service commission have been female and all of the last three state auditors were female."
The group points out that Alabama has only had one female governor - Lurleen Wallace who took over from her husband in 1967 - and has only elected three women to serve in Congress. Two of those, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, are currently in office.
Slightly more than 14 percent of Alabama's state legislature are women, a number that's up three times the levels of 1993. That figure, however, remains the 47th worst in the country.