2008 Firsts for Women from WowOwow

The New Hampshire Senate Chamber

The 13 Women of New Hampshire's State Senate: The First Female-Majority State Legislature in the Nation

December 18, 2008
by Anne Szustek
After the 2008 election, New Hampshire became the first state with a female-majority legislative house. Thirteen members of the 24-seat chamber are women.

The number of women elected to the New Hampshire state senate grew from 10 to 13 after this year’s election cycle, making the Granite State the first in the nation to have a legislative body with a female majority.

All 13 of the state’s female senators are also mothers. Legislators in New Hampshire are accustomed to juggling numerous roles and jobs in what is essentially a volunteer position: the annual salary for state senators is just $100.

New Hampshire has a long tradition of female political firsts. Soon after women were granted suffrage, voters elected two women to the state House in 1921. In 1930, New Hampshire elected its first female state senator. Democratic Representative Carol Shea-Porter was sworn in as the state’s first congresswoman in January 2007. This year, the state is sending its first woman to the U.S. Senate: Jeanne Shaheen, who was governor of New Hampshire from 1997 to 2003.

“We saw female candidates break the glass ceiling in New Hampshire some time ago,” University of New Hampshire political scientist Dante Scala told ABC News. “So voters here were used to the idea of having women in charge. And that isn’t the case across the 50 states.”

“Nationally, less than one in four legislators is female,” Amy Goodman said on the November 7 edition of her radio show, “Democracy Now.”

Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, told The Eagle-Tribune that New Hampshire is generally among the nation’s top 10 states in terms of female representation in the Legislature, with the exception of a five-year period between 2001 and 2006.

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