(WASHINGTON) — The numbers are in and women are representing – but not all states are equal.
This year, 1,773 women will be taking the oath of office to serve in their states’ legislative bodies. In January, after they are sworn in, women will make up 24 percent of all state legislatures – and the number may grow because four state legislative races with at least one female candidate in the running remain undecided.
Colorado is leading the pack with the highest percentage of female legislators serving. In 2013, Colorado will have 41.5 percent state House representatives who are female (27 female out of 65 total) and 40 percent state Senate members (14 out of 35). Thirty are Democrats and 11 are Republican.
Other states leading in female representation are Vermont, Arizona and Hawaii.
But not all states in the union are as progressive. At the bottom of the list is Louisiana, which has only 16 women serving on the state level, making it the least progressive state in terms of female representation. Trailing along with Louisiana are South Carolina and Alabama which collectively only have 42 female representatives.
Though 2013 will see an increase from 23.7 percent of women serving in 2012 to 24 percent serving, 2013 will not set a record for highest percentage of females representing. In 2010, women made up 24.5 percent of the state legislatures, but there was a dramatic decrease the following year.
Kelly Dittmar, assistant research professor for the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey, told ABC News that women were underrepresented in 2011 because there was a huge loss of women amid a Republican wave that swept the country that year.
“Our women representing are mainly Democrats,” Dittmar said. “So the Republican surge made us lose a lot of women. The percentage of women serving dropped to 23.3 percent, which was the lowest that we have recorded since the 1970s.”
When asked about the possibility of women making a comeback in coming years, Dittmar seemed hopeful.
“Hopefully, this year is writing the new course.” Dittmar said. “We saw a big decrease in 2011, which was unwelcomed. But aside from that, we have seen a very slow, incremental increase for many years.
She added, “This election righted the shift back to an increase, but we need increased efforts to recruit women to run to continue growing our numbers significantly.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Henderson, Teton Valley News
Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com