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The Stateline Project: Who Represents Us?

Texas Tribune

As we near primaries to narrow down choices for president, the Pew Research Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures has released a study of who has been elected to statehouses. 

The Stateline Project examined demographics of each state legislature to see if they reflect the population as a whole.

Executive Editor Scott Greenberger talked about two sections of the study: the gender and racial demographics of state legislatures.

Highlights from the Interview with Greenberger:

Women in Texas account for 20 percent of the Legislature: “Nationally it was between 24 and 25 percent. What we hear from party leaders and people who’ve studied this issue is that it takes a little more effort to recruit women to run than it takes men. Part of it, particularly with younger women, is that if they’re trying to balance a professional life with their family life, adding a political career just doesn’t seem to make sense to them. Studies show men are handling more duties at home, but women still do the lion’s share of work at home, and they are reluctant to add more to an already busy life.”

Representation of minorities in the Texas Legislature:

“39 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic, but only 23 percent of the people in the state legislature are Hispanic. Texas is doing a little better when it comes to African Americans 12 percent of the population is black and ten percent of the legislators are black. Part of the low number has to do with recruitment. It’s also in the case in many places the way district lines are drawn, a desire to ensure there’s at least some minority representation, in some cases minorities are lumped together in a relatively small number of districts, which there’ll be some minority representatives. But that puts a cap on the overall number, that there are not going to be that many.”

Education and occupation:  Stateline found most Texas lawmakers have at least a Bachelor’s Degree. 27-percent are lawyers. And five percent are farmers.

For more information:

Results of the Pew Stateline Project

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.