It was 1897 when Martha Hughes Cannon became the first female state senator in Utah and in the nation.
But over the last 122 years, fewer than 30 other women have followed her into the Utah Senate, according to a list that caused a stir on social media Wednesday morning.
“I had no idea it was such a small group. I am only the 8th Republican woman to serve here,” Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, wrote in a tweet about the list.
“Barely enough to fill the seats in the Senate,” Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox replied.
Amateur Utah historian Ron Fox had given Henderson the list of female legislators, and the initial roster — the version she shared on Twitter — contained inaccuracies. Fox later released a corrected list, determining that 29 women have served in the Utah Senate since 1896, nine Republicans and 20 Democrats.
From the time Utah became a state, it took 100 years to put the first 14 female senators in office, with the remainder serving over the subsequent 22 years.
The list generated social-media chatter about the number of females elected to the Utah Legislature.
Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, added to the discussion by tweeting, “I am the 31st female Senator in the HERstory of Utah and the 22nd female Democratic Senator."
This year, the number of women in the Legislature reached the historic high of 25, accounting for 24 percent of Utah’s 104 lawmakers. That still puts Utah behind the national average of 28.3 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Utah is also in the back of the pack for other measures on gender equity, with WalletHub recently naming it the worst state for women’s equality based on an array of metrics covering economic quality, education, health care and political representation.
And a new index found that Utah is the second-most sexist state in the nation, trailing only Arkansas.
The analysis of survey results by economists from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and National University of Singapore showed Utah is in a minority of states where women responding to the questionnaire showed more sexism than men did.