Benchmark

Nevada now has the first state legislature in U.S. history with a majority of women members.

It has not yet happened entirely by election, but it has happened.

In November, Nevadans sharply increased the women members of the Nevada Legislature in both houses—displacing seven men with women in the Assembly and giving it a majority of women while also increasing the number of female senators.

Then, after the election, this series of events unfolded: After being elected state attorney general, Sen. Aaron Ford resigned to prepare for the new position and was replaced in the senate with the appointment of a woman, Dallas Harris, by the Clark County Commission. That added one woman to the legislature. Then, Clark County Sen. Richard Segerblom stepped down to take a post in county government and the county commission replaced him with Assm. Chris Brooks (that’s a male Chris), who in turn was replaced in the Assembly by Rochelle Thuy Nguyen. That added a second woman, tipping the numbers to the “distaff side” as newspapers used to put it.

The Assembly—the larger house—went female majority in the November election, but the Senate remains majority male. However, the full legislature gets a female majority on total points.

The New York Times, which on June 30 spotted and reported on the possible approaching benchmark in the Silver State before local press entities did, reported the story last week under the mistaken headline, “Nevada Becomes First State With Majority of Women in Assembly.” In using the term “Assembly” instead of “Legislature,” the Times was referring to one house of the legislature, and that one-house benchmark had already been reached by New Hampshire in 2009—as the Times itself reported in the story under the headline.

What the Times headline described happened six weeks ago, when Nevadans elected 22 women and 20 men to the Nevada Assembly, giving one house a majority of women. On the same day, Colorado and Guam did the same thing.

But what happened last week, Nevada had to itself. No state legislature has ever before had a woman majority. It is a majority of the full legislature, however, not a majority of both houses. The Senate remains at 12 men and nine women.

Women are a majority of the U.S. population at 50.8 percent, but in Nevada they are not. They are 49.8 percent of Nevadans, according to the Census Bureau.

Also appointed to the Assembly by the Clark County Commission the same day as Nguyen was Beatrice Duran, but she replaced Olivia Diaz, so her appointment did not change the gender count. Diaz resigned just after being reelected to the Assembly in order to run for the Las Vegas City Council. No explanation was given of why she ran for reelection, but her resignation was not well received by some voters.