Kathy Hochul’s rise in New York spotlights the barriers to women becoming governors
Kathy Hochul’s rise in New York spotlights the barriers to women becoming governorsBarbara Rodriguez, The 19th
When Kathy Hochul was sworn in this Tuesday, she become the first woman to serve as the governor of New York, ascending from her role as lieutenant governor after the resignation of Andrew Cuomo. The Democrat will also be one of only nine women governors in America — and one of four who first reached that position through succession rather than election.
Of the 44 women who served as a governor before Hochul, 11 got the position through rules in state constitutions that made them next in line as governor when the current officeholder was no longer able to serve. Six later won full terms, including three currently in office: Democratic Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon; Republican Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama; and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa. Separately, three women governors between the 1920s and 1960s replaced their spouses.
There have been at least 1,000 men governors, according to a general estimate from the Eagleton Center on the American Governor.
Despite gains in representation in statehouses, Congress and other statewide offices — women hold positions like lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general at higher rates — their representation at statewide executive leadership remains stubbornly low. After Hochul's ascension, there are still be 19 states that have never had a woman governor. America has had three governors who were women of color, but voters have never elected a Black or Indigenous woman as governor.
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