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Group: Utah needs more women in office

Politics » State has one of the least diverse legislatures in the U.S.

First Published Jan 23 2013 05:54 pm • Last Updated May 05 2013 11:33 pm

The 2012 U.S. elections yielded record victories for women holding seats at the national level, giving them the most representation in U.S. history — 18.3 percent of the seats, up from 16.8 percent in the previous two Congresses. 

None of the 98 incoming female members of Congress is from Utah, and no Utah woman holds statewide elected office. When incoming members of the Utah Legislature begin meeting Monday, five women will be sworn in in the Senate and 12 in the House, or 16.3 percent of 104 lawmakers, matching the percentage of the 1995 Legislature.

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That ranks Utah’s Legislature 45th in the nation for gender diversity, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Colorado is the most diverse with 42 women of the 100 lawmakers.

Real Women Run, a coalition that started in 2011, aims to boost Utah’s numbers by encouraging and empowering women to participate and run for public office and boards.

"There is much work to do in Utah," Real Women Run contact Mike Varanakis said in a prepared statement.

The coalition will be holding a free networking social on Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the YWCA on 310 E. 300 South in Salt Lake City. It hopes to create a opportunity for women interested in politics to meet one another and to hear from Republican and Democratic leaders. 

The social will have information available that will focus on running for public office, working on a campaign and serving on public boards and commissions.

Real Women Run is a nonpartisan partnership that includes the YWCA Salt Lake City, The Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, Vision 2020, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters in Utah, and current and past elected female officials. 

Contact the group at realwomenrun.org for more information, or speak to Robin at rpratt@ywca.com or 801-537-8606.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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