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WYO State Capitol – Where Have All the Women Gone?

February 13, 2009

Cheyenne, WY – A question floating around the state capital in Cheyenne this year is – where have all the women gone? The number of women legislators is down 26 percent this year, so today, the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus is trying to encourage women to "take the leap" into leadership roles.

Melissa Turley is a member of the bi-partisan caucus and a Jackson Town Councilwoman. She says the legislature needs more women for an accurate reflection of the state’s demographics, and she sees other pluses.

"Constituents, as well as colleagues, really can benefit from having a gender balance so that the issues and the approach of women is represented."

Women make up just 17 percent of the legislature. Turley says research shows women in Wyoming are reluctant to run for office because of the time commitment, the fact that the jobs have low pay and in the case of legislators, no health coverage. Women need encouragement under those circumstances, she adds.

"Looking around, each and every one of us, man and woman, to see what women are leaders in our community and how we might encourage them to amplify their leadership roles."

Those attending events at the capital can meet with current and former women legislators and other elected leaders and learn about the government process. The event is hosted in partnership with the Equality State Policy Center and Wyoming Business Alliance.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY