Capitol Alert

Women make gains but still underrepresented in California elected offices

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is one of 22 women in California’s 55-member Congressional delegation.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is one of 22 women in California’s 55-member Congressional delegation. AP

More women serve in elected offices statewide this year than last, according to a new report, but they remain relatively under represented in the halls of power.

According to the annual “Status of Women in City Government” issued Thursday, 727 women serve on city councils, up from 706 last year. Still, men outnumber women at the local government level nearly 3 to 1.

One city, Eureka, has an all-female council. About 16 percent of California’s remaining 481 cities have councils that are majority women. Another 36 percent have just one woman on the city council, down about 8 percent from the previous report.

About a quarter of cities statewide have women mayors.

The report, co-sponsored by California Women Lead and the League of California Cities Women’s Caucus, also touches on the composition of state and federal representation.

The Legislature remains a male-dominated institution: Just 31 of the 120 seats in the statehouse are held by women, although Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen and Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller, are women on the top levels of the institution’s power pyramid. Olsen and Atkins will be replaced by men in their leadership posts early next year.

Only two statewide officeholders are women: Attorney General Kamala Harris and Controller Betty Yee. Both are Democrats, keeping alive a streak dating back to 1974 when State Treasurer Ivy Baker Priest’s second term ended. Priest was the only Republican woman ever elected to statewide office.

More men than women represent the state Washington, D.C. Although Democratic U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are both women, the House delegation has 20 women (one a Republican) and 33 men.

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