Women have made great strides in Delaware politics over the last several decades, occupying the state’s highest political offices, like governor and attorney general, and holding several influential roles in leadership and on key budget committees in the Statehouse.
But as women have amassed power in Delaware’s capital, the number of rank-and-file women in the General Assembly is the lowest in 10 years.
The Statehouse included 21 female lawmakers in 2005. There are 15 today, representing 24.2 percent of the General Assembly. By comparison, women comprise 51.6 of the state’s population.
“We went backwards,” said former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, the only woman to hold the state’s top elected title, from 2001 to 2009, and a longtime state lawmaker. “It seems like the women aren’t running anymore. The ones we do have … I don’t think they are strong enough. You have to be strong to battle the wars in that building.”
Delaware first elected a woman to the Statehouse in 1924, when voters in New Castle County sent Florence Hanby to the state House. Vera Davis was the first woman elected to serve in the state Senate in 1946. She went on to be the first female president pro tem and the first woman elected statewide when she became treasurer in 1956.