BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) When Sen. Michelle Stennett heard the statistic, she cheered: Thirty percent of Idaho’s legislature is made up of women.
This makes Idaho the 12th best state for female representation, according to a 2017 Rutgers University study.
Stennett doesn’t think these statistics brag about our state enough. As the Senate minority leader, she’s also pleased with the representation of females in leadership roles.
“There are six positions in the House and Senate, and five of those are held by women,” she said. “That is unprecedented in the state.”
Rep. Sally Toone also cheered.
“That’s a good thing,” she said.
Idaho was about 10 percentage points behind the number one spot, Vermont, whose legislature is 40 percent women.
But Stennett said even though our numbers aren’t as high, our decorum is competitive. In conversations with female legislators in other states, she found how respectfully Idaho’s legislature runs.
“I think they struggle more with having a… good process rather than a gender balance,” she said.
Toone agreed, noting the only reason she would be treated differently was due to her legislative youth.
“I was a newbie,” said the first-year lawmaker. “I was treated as the rookie at the bottom of the pecking order.”
Both Stennett and Toone said they’d like to see Idaho’s number go up, Toone saying she would love to see a 50-50 balance, if only to bring more perspectives to the legislature.
“That's the whole essence of the citizen legislature,” she said. “You have points of view and the best solutions are in the middle."