Do our leaders reflect the diversity of our people? Insights and analysis on gender and representation in federal positions.

Evidence shows that improving women’s representation in government, public policy, and society can increase life satisfaction for women and men alike.

We asked female congressional candidates to share lessons from the campaign and takeaways from their experiences running for office. Here are some of their insights.

The derision of Latinas/os and Latin American immigrants has been a central and calculated strategy of the Trump administration from the infamous 2015 campaign announcement maligning Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists” and continues through to the dismissal of Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, the execution of a “zero tolerance policy” on undocumented families on the U.S-Mexico border, the incarceration of more than 2,400 children, the challenge to birthright citizenship, the deployment of 5,200 troops to the border, and prolonged derision of a caravan of Central American migrants. Even the 35-day government shutdown and the recent declaration of a national emergency rest on racialized narratives casting immigrants as “animals,” “thugs,” “national security threats,” and “terrorists” to justify a costly border wall. These attacks once again became the campaign “dog whistle” of the 2018 midterm elections as several Republicans banked on a relentless strategy of derision to consolidate a nationalist identity, assuage a fragile masculinity, and ultimately mobilize white voters.

Midterm votes are still being tallied, and women are predicted to increase their overall share of state legislature seats from 25.4% to as much as 38% across the country. Next year, at least 2,019 women will serve in state legislative offices exceeding the previous record of 1,879 women serving simultaneously set in 2018. This incorporation is vital for the important policies being debated and adopted in these legislatures, and for changing the workplace culture of legislatures. Women’s caucuses at the state level are one effective vehicle for ensuring that gender equity issues are included in state political agendas and that institutional norms expand to embrace women as equal partners in policymaking.

If you’ve been monitoring elections returns with an eye to gender and intersectionality, you know that the record number of women candidates for national office translated to an important increase of women in the US house, a slight decrease in the Senate, and a return to the record of nine women governors across the country. You also know that the exciting story nationally has been the many historic “firsts” for people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants and others gaining federal office for the first time – what Van Jones and others call the “rainbow wave.” But what do these patterns look like at the state level? We dug into the data of one midwestern state, Minnesota, and see some similar increases of women (and men) of color gaining statewide or federal elected offices, but the numbers of women and LGBTQ people in the state legislature have declined slightly.