Colorado makes history in 2022 election

Colorado makes history as #2 state in the nation with a female majority in the State Legislature with 51 women out of 100 seats.

Colorado made history in the 2022 election by achieving gender parity with legislators at both at the federal and state level.

For the first time, four of eight Colorado members of the US House of Representatives will be women – a doubling of the current number:

  • Diana DeGette (District 1, Democratic incumbent)
  • Lauren Boebert (District 3, Republican incumbent)
  • Brittany Pettersen (District 7, Democrat)
  • Yadira Caraveo (District 8, Democrat)

This is the first time that Colorado has sent a Latina – Dr. Caraveo – or any woman of color to Congress. It’s also the first time that District 7 will be represented by a woman.

Up to now, only five women have ever represented Colorado in Congress. Besides DeGette and Boebert, the others were Patricia Schroeder, Marilyn Musgrave, and Betsy Markey. 

“It’s amazing that this time has finally arrived,” said Erin Hottenstein, Colorado 50-50 Founder. “Women have been helping to build this state into the great place it is for 146 years and yet we didn’t have our voices equally represented in the halls of power. Now we will.”

At the State Legislature, voters elected 51 women out of 100 available seats.

  • State House – 39 women out of 65 seats
    • 34 Democratic women, 5 Republican women
  • State Senate – 12 women out of 35 seats
    • 10 Democratic women, 2 Republican women

That’s the first time in our state’s history that we have had not only gender parity, but a female majority in the Legislature. The next closest time was in 2019 when we had 46 women.

“We’re excited to see these historic milestones, and we know there is more work to do.” Hottenstein said. “Colorado has never had a woman governor or US Senator, and many cities, including Denver, have never had a woman mayor. 

“We also know that we can’t have a truly representative democracy without more women of color serving at all levels,” she continued.

“Colorado 50-50 looks forward to continuing our work in inspiring and training women to run for office, so that we can break even more glass ceilings,” she said.

Dear Denver Post – You Need More Women Opinion Writers

Woman reading a Denver Post opinion page, out of which the text of male writers has been cut, leaving many empty spaces.

Dear Editor,

As an avid reader of the Denver Post and the Perspective section, I am regularly disappointed with the lack of women’s voices – and those of people of color – on your pages. Recently, I was shocked to count six guest columns that were not only all from men, but appeared to be all from white men.

Why does Jon Caldara get to take up so much space? Or Doug Friednash? Or Ian Silverii?

There’s nothing wrong with hearing from these – or any other – white males. I’m sure they’re fine people, and they can write. For the record, white males are some of my closest friends.

The problem is that the opinion pages should more accurately reflect the population of Colorado. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that almost half of Coloradans are female. Of all Coloradans, about 68 percent are white, 22 percent are Hispanic or Latino, just under 5 percent are black or African-American, 3.5 percent are Asian, and about 1.5 percent are Native American.

Knowing these figures, it is interesting to know some other facts. A Byline Survey by The OpEd Project in 2012 found that women were penning just 20 percent of opinions in traditional U.S. publications. That’s not anywhere close to 50-50.

Also concerning to people like me who are working to get more women elected is research from Who Leads Us showing that even though white men make up 30 percent of the population, they hold 64 percent of elected offices. While people of color (both men and women) make up 39 percent of the U.S. population, they hold only 10 percent of elected positions. For women of color specifically, the numbers are the worst – 20 percent of people and only 4 percent of seats.

Not only are women absent in seats of power, sometimes they are invisible in men’s commentary about politics. More than once I have read pieces that did not even mention that there were women candidates running in a given race. Women candidates have enough challenges without being casually erased from the opinion page.

These discrepancies have consequences – both in the world of ideas and in the world of policy. We are missing different life experiences, other ways of thinking about things, and valuable viewpoints. As a society, we make better policy decisions when there are diverse voices at the table. Many studies of government and business have shown this to be true.

The good news is women have opinions!

I was so concerned about the lack of women opinion writers that I decided to try to help. I spent some time rounding up a list of women with opinions. The women on this list are diverse in their race, their political party, their age, and their geography.

These women are ready to write columns for you:

  • Cynthia Coffman
  • Paula Cole
  • Melanie Dubin
  • Rebekah Henderson
  • Alice Madden
  • Amber McReynolds
  • Confidence Omenai
  • Vanessa Quintana
  • Elizabeth Skewes
  • Maya Siegel
  • Suzi Q. Smith
  • Kristin Strohm
  • Emma Tang
  • Calandra Vargas-O’Hanlan
  • and me.

This is a brief list. I’m sure that there are many more women who would be willing to lend their voices to the conversations happening in your paper.

Expanding the number of diverse women thought leaders is especially urgent as we approach not only the next legislative session, but also a very consequential presidential election and U.S. Senate election. I urge you to add more women writers to your rotation of columnists.

Erin Hottenstein
Colorado 50-50