Q&AZ: Arizona Has A Strong History Of Electing Female Officials

By Claire Caulfield
Published: Monday, August 20, 2018 - 10:17am
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 11:36am
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Arizona State Library
Rose Mofford was Arizona's governor from 1988 to 1991.

KJZZ listener Claire Sargent wanted to know if Arizona was the first state to elect a woman to the Arizona Legislature, so she asked via Q&AZ.

The first female lawmakers were actually elected in Colorado in 1894, the year after women got the right to vote in that state.

Arizona was also an early adopter of women's suffrage, which could have lead to a historically high number of female elected officials according to Jean Sinzdak, director of the Center for American Women and Politics.

“The western state governments were formed later," Sinzdak said. "Things were a lot more fluid and that culture lent itself to opportunities for people to get involved in ways that were much harder to in the more entrenched political systems back East.”

Currently, 40 percent of lawmakers in Arizona are female, tying it with Vermont for the highest representation of women at a state Capitol.

"Representation matters, we know that if women see others in elected positions, they're more likely to run themselves," Sinzdak said. 

There have only been 39 female governors in U.S. history, and Arizona has four of them, including the first female governor to succeed another women.