Idaho Gets A C+ On Election Gender Equality By Sending One Woman To Congress

Mar 27, 2014

Idaho gets a C+ for the percentage of women it elects to Congress in a new election gender equality report card from the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog. The site, dedicated to data-driven political reporting, looked at all the U.S. House races for the past 25 years.

Credit screen grab from umn.edu/cspg/smartpolitics

Idaho’s C+ comes from sending a woman to the House 12.5 percent of the time since 1989. That represents three wins out of 24 races, all by Republican Helen Chenoweth (later Chenoweth-Hage) who served from 1994 to 2001. One other woman has represented Idaho - Gracie Pfost - from 1953 to 1963.

Idaho would get different grades in election gender equality if other offices and time periods were considered. Currently women make up about a quarter of the state legislature. Idaho has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate, has never elected a woman governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, or attorney general.

One woman has served as state controller, Donna Jones, from 2007 to 2012. Since 1933 more women than men have been state treasurer, beginning with Myrtle Enking. Idaho schools’ superintendent is the statewide office that has seen the most women serve. Since statehood, it’s been a nearly even split between men and women elected starting with Permeal French in 1898. That was just two years after women won the right to vote in Idaho.

The Smart Politics report says the number of women in the U.S. House has tripled in the last 25 years to 79. That's 18 percent. In that time Wyoming elected a woman more than 76 percent of the time. But no other state reached 50 percent.

Ten states have not elected any women to the House in the last 25 years.  Montana was one of those, which got it an F. Of Idaho’s other neighbors Utah got a D. Washington got a B and Oregon a B-. Nevada got an A and Wyoming the only A+.

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