South Carolina's political gender gap is not just a gap . . . it's a Grand Canyon!

We have ample evidence that the women who live and work in South Carolina are talented, skilled, and generous in their commitment to improving the quality of life of South Carolina families. However, women are grossly underrepresented at the tables of power where public policy decisions are made:

  • South Carolina ranks 50th - last - in the nation in terms of women in public office. In the current Legislature, there were no women State Senators and 16 women members of the House of Representatives, meaning just 8.8% of the Legislature was female.

  • US House of Representatives from 1987 to 1993.

  • Only four women in South Carolina history have been elected to statewide office: Lt. Governor Nancy Stevenson (1979-1982), Superintendent of Education Barbara Nielsen (1991-1999), Superintendent of Education Inez Tennebaum (1999-2007), and Governor Nikki Haley (2010-current)

  • Just three women are presidents of private colleges or universities, and women make up only 17.5% of the Boards of Trustees of public institutions.
The near-absence of women's input into critical decisions of the 21st century is a monumental waste of one of South Carolina's most valuable resources, and a staggering affront to women, who make up 51.3% of the state's population. With the cooperation of existing major women's groups in the state, the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics plans to narrow this political gender gap and help women take their rightful place as powerful political leaders.