Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gender in the Montgomery State Legislative Delegation

District Men Women
14 1 3
15 3 1
16 3 1
17 3 1
18 3 1
19 4 0
20 2 2
39 3 1
TOTAL 22 10

The table above shows the share of women in the Montgomery delegation by district. The Gazette reported on the decline in the number of women in the General Assembly:
Maryland boasted the highest percentage of female legislators in the country in 2005 and 2006, when 67 of the 188 state lawmakers were women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The state now ranks 8th, with 59 women in the General Assembly.
Much of the decline has occurred in Montgomery. In District 15, Republican Jean Cryor was defeated by Democrat Craig Rice in the 2006 general election. District 16's Marilyn Goldwater retired and Bill Frick was appointed to the vacancy.

District 18 has gone from three to one female legislators due to the retirement of Sen. Sharon Grosfeld and the death of Del. Jane Lawton. Rich Madaleno won the seat vacated by Sen. Grosfeld in 2006; Al Carr was appointed to fill the vacancy in the House.

In District 19, Dels. Adrienne Mandel and Carol Petzold competed unsuccessfully for the open Senate seat in 2006. They were defeated by Michael Lenett; Petzold and Mandel were replaced in the House by Ben Kramer and Roger Manno.

District 20 saw Sen. Ida Ruben defeated by Jamie Raskin; however, Heather Mizeur won a seat in the House leaving the District 20 delegation evenly split between men and women. In District 39, Del Nancy King was elevated to the Senate upon the retirement of P.J. Hogan. She was replaced in the House by Kirill Reznick.

In sum, there has been a net decline of six women in the Montgomery delegation of 32 members of the general assembly since the end of the last General Assembly in 2006. The net losses occurred in just four of the eight legislative districts: Districts 15, 16, 18, and 19. Districts 18 and 19 experienced a net lost of two women with District 19 becoming the only all-male delegation from Montgomery.

Of course, the decline in women did not result in a total loss for diversity. African Americans filled two of six seats previously held by women in Districts 16 and 18. The first openly gay member of the House moved up to the Senate in District 18.

Still, I think it is safe to say that the trend is opposite of what one might have expected in Montgomery County. We've gone from a delegation evenly split between men and women to one where women compose just 31 percent of the delegation.

The share of women in the General Assembly will decline further if the Prince George's Central Committee chooses a man for the vacancy caused by the recent death of Sen. Gwendolyn Britt. Del. Jolene Ivey is a candidate for the seat though one wonders whether the goal of promoting her husband's candidacy for County Executive in 2010--as well as the presence of several serious male candidates--may slow down her own advancement.