Jackson Revealed: Making the ‘Equality State’ Equal

Wyoming's gender disparity in local and state politics is deeply pronounced. These four women are working to close the gap.
Women in Cheyenne cast their ballots at a local election in 1869. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Most people (in Wyoming anyway) know that Wyoming earned its “Equality State” when it became the first state to grant women the right to vote. That was back in 1869. One hundred and fifty years later, the dearth of women in Wyoming’s local and state government is deeply pronounced. In fact, when it comes to female political representation, Wyoming’s gender disparity is the most unequal in the country.

At the state level, Wyoming has had just one woman governor—Nellie Tayloe Ross in 1925. Just to put Wyoming’s one-woman governor situation into context, however, this is a problem from East to West. There are currently only nine women serving as governors in the U.S. While a record number of women—12—were nominated for governor races across the country in 2018, there are still 20 states that have yet to send a woman to the governor’s mansion.

When it comes to the state legislature, Wyoming is at the bottom, with women comprising just 11 percent of lawmakers. And here at the local level, there is just one woman on the Jackson Town Council, Vice Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson. Meanwhile, Teton County Commissioner Chair Natalia Macker is the sole woman on that board. This comes at a time when record numbers of women now sit in Congress and a historic number of women are running for president. To discuss the barriers Wyoming women face and ways to move forward we are joined by women pushing to close the gap.

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About Robyn Vincent

Robyn launched KHOL's news department. She has worked as a reporter and editor in Wyoming for the last decade and her work has aired on NPR stations throughout the West. When she's not sweating deadlines, Robyn sustains her nomadic heart by traveling the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow @TheNomadicHeart

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