Four month-old Sam Hucker on the desk of his father, Delegate Tom Hucker at the Maryland General Assembly on Jan. 11, 2012 in Annapolis, Md.
Mark Gail/The Washington Post/Getty

Day 10: Mothers, fathers, and your state legislature


Which members of your state legislature are more likely to have young children – men or women?

A 2008 study by the Center for American Women and Politics found that only 3% of women state representatives had children under 6, compared to 8% of men state representatives. Similarly, 14% of women representatives had children under 18, compared to 22% of men.

Women representatives were also more likely than their male colleagues to rank “my children being old enough” as an important factor in their decision to run for office. More than half of women state representatives – 57% - rated that as “very important” compared to 42% of men representatives.

The report finds:

Other women legislators we interviewed spoke of the challenges women with

young children face with voters—as well as with their colleagues. Cultural

questions remain about the acceptability of women combining politics with

a young family. For example, one woman legislator we interviewed, who is

a parent, was asked by a voter, “Can you handle all [of] this?”—a question

probably much more frequently asked of female than male candidates.

Another legislator observed: “You would never find a woman with children

on her campaign sign. Unfortunately, the assumption would be that she is

too busy, [that] she would not be able to meet the demands professionally.”

Another issue is travel to the legislature. One legislator explained that “there

is still a stigma for a woman to leave on Monday and come back and be with

her family on Friday.”

You can read the full report here.

Assignment: Look up the members of your state legislature. Do you know which representatives are parents? Does it ever come up during campaign cycles or in response to their legislating?

Day 10: Mothers, fathers, and your state legislature