California Dolphin: statewide California news

Find Yourself in the California Legislature — Or Not

There are ( still ) more white men named James or Jim in the California Legislature than African-American and Asian-American women combined. Throw in some white Robs, Bobs and Roberts, and you have a pretty sizable “JimBob” caucus with a membership larger than the number of Republican women, openly gay or lesbian legislators, or women from any party under the age of 40. This week, California seats a new class of lawmakers. You may not know their names, but their work is important to your day-to-day life, impacting everything from your taxes to the quality of the air you breathe. But while California prides itself on diversity, in many ways state government looks more like the California of 30 years ago than the California of today. Women make major gains, but California trails other states on gender parity After a year in which sexual misconduct allegations led to calls for both parties to run more female candidates, women made significant gains in the Legislature in November’s election. California opens 2019 with 36 women in the Legislature—a near record (the previous high was 37 at the end of 2006). Nearly 60 percent of all newly elected California lawmakers are women, mirroring a surge in successful female candidacies across the country. But California’s statehouse still falls far short of equal gender representation. Even after this election’s gains, women account for just 31 percent of California legislators. (If you’re wondering, women make up a little more than half of voting-age Californians). Male-dominated politics are hardly a uniquely California phenomenon. More than 75 percent of the new Congress is male. But California still trails many other states, including some of its more conservative neighbors. Oregon and Arizona each have a higher proportion of women in their legislatures than California, while Nevada recently made history as the first state to elect a legislature with a female majority. Asian-American women are sorely underrepresented Nearly 1 in 10 voting-age Californians is a woman with Asian-American or Pacific Islander heritage. That’s a bigger proportion than the state’s entire voting-age African-American population, male and female. But only 1 in 118 California legislators is an Asian-American woman. Ling Ling Chang, a Taiwanese Republican senator from Diamond Bar in eastern Los Angeles County, won her seat in the June recall of a sitting Democratic legislator.…

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