Participating in the political process is one way women can seek representation of their interests and influence policies affecting their lives. Voter registration and turnout, female state and federal elected representation, and women’s state institutional resources are all crucial to making women’s political concerns visible.

Although women have made significant political gains over the last century, women are far from achieving political equality. Eighty years after the Nineteenth Amendment granted female suffrage, women today are more likely than men to register and to vote. However, women are still drastically underrepresented in federal and state government. Although slightly more than half the population, women hold only 12.1 percent of seats in the US Congress and 22.4 percent of seats in state legislatures across the country.

“The Status of Women in the States” is an ongoing research project conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) to establish baseline measures of the status of women in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Political participation is one of several measures IWPR uses to compare women’s status among the states.