Louisiana will have a few more women in the state Legislature when new lawmakers are sworn in Jan. 11.
Following the November elections, Louisiana will have 22 female legislators — five in the Senate and 17 in the House.
The increase — from about 12 percent female to slightly more than 15 percent female — means Louisiana’s no longer dead last in the number of women legislators, according to a recent analysis from Rutger’s Center for American Women and Politics, which tracks the gender make-up of the state houses spread across the country.
Nationally, state Legislatures are about a quarter female.
Louisiana’s lack of female legislators has often drawn attention. A report out from Pew this week highlights the older figures for the 2015 state lawmakers without noting the slight gain that women made in the most recent election cycle.
The House gained three more women, while the Senate gained one.
CAWP notes that other states, including Mississippi, are becoming more skewed toward men.
Louisiana will now rank 45th in the nation, after several years of being the state legislative body with the fewest women.
Two years ago, after a heated debate over equal pay legislation, Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, declared on the Senate floor the need to elect more women to legislative office.
A 2009 report from CAWP researchers found female candidates were less likely to be recruited by party leaders, activists and elected officials.
“Many political gatekeepers believed that women did not belong in politics and that voters would be less likely to vote for female than for male candidates,” researchers Susan J. Carroll and Kira Sanbonmatsu concluded.
Louisiana has no female statewide office holders, following the defeat of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu last fall. No women ran as major candidates for statewide office this year.
For more coverage of Louisiana state government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog .