WOMEN HOLD NEARLY HALF OF DANE COUNTY BOARD SEATS
April 06, 2018
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
Percentage far exceeds state, national averages for representation
When it comes to women having a seat at the table, the Dane County Board is way ahead of the rest of the country.
Following Tuesday’s election, women now hold 17 of 37 Dane County Board seats or 45.9%. That is the highest percentage in over a quarter century.
In 1990 women held 19 of 41 seats (46.3%) but that figure had been falling over the past quarter century to a low of 6 in 2002, before rebounding over the past several years. For some historic perspective in 1970, only 6% of board members were women.
“Dane County has been leading the way on diversity and inclusion for some time and these election successes continue to build on that momentum,” says Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan of Middleton.
Statewide, women held 18 percent of the seats on county boards coming into the 2018 election cycle, according to the Wisconsin Counties Association. Only Eau Claire County, with 14 of 29 (48.2%) of supervisors being women, rivals Dane County on that measure.
Among local Dane County Board winners Tuesday were Tanya Buckingham representing Monona; Analiese Eicher representing northeast Madison and Sun Prairie; Julie Schwellenbach, who replaced long-time Supervisor Dennis O’Loughlin who did not seek reelection representing northeast Dane County; and Kelly Danner who defeated long-time Supervisor Al Matano representing near west Madison.
Three men also won seats on the board including Yogesh Chawla, who will replace former Board Chair Supervisor John Hendrick representing Madison’s near east side. Hendrick did not seek reelection. Steven Peters representing west Madison and the town of Middleton and Jason Knoll in Verona were also successful in their election efforts.
All newly elected supervisors will be sworn in at the Board’s organizational meeting on Tuesday April 17. State law requires counties to hold the first meeting of a new county board term on the third Tuesday of even-numbered years. The only agenda items at this meeting will be election of officers and adoption of the county board rules for the 2018-2020 term.
“If I can speak for my colleagues, we are certainly excited about adding some new voices to the County Board as we move forward on important issues including protecting our environment, overseeing vital human services and reforming the criminal justice system,” says Corrigan.
Nationally, women continue to trail far behind their male counterparts when it comes to holding elected office -- even though women make up 50.8 percent of the U.S. population.
At the beginning of 2018, women held just 105 or 19.6% of the 535 seats in the U.S. Congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). That breaks down to 22 of 100 seats (22%) in the U.S. Senate and 83 of 435 (19.1%) seats in the House of Representatives.
Women also held 22.8% or 71 statewide elective executive offices across the country out of 312 available positions.
In terms of State Legislatures, 25.4%, of the 7,383 Legislators in the U.S. were women – although the number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled since 1971, according to CAWP.
Wisconsin ranks 29th out of the 50 states in terms of women serving in the Legislature, with 24.2% of seats held by women at the beginning of 2018.
“Serving on the Dane County Board has opened the door to future higher elected office for many women, including U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, among others,” says Corrigan. “The opportunity to represent constituents locally and wrestle with policy and fiscal decisions provides a firm foundation for the next step in elected office.”