Women picked up four seats in the New Jersey Legislature in November.

And because Virginia was the only other state to run legislative races on Election Day 2021, that four-seat gain was good enough to significantly improve New Jersey's ranking when it comes to women's representation in state legislatures.

The Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, finds that women now hold 34.2% of seats in the New Jersey Legislature, 31 in the Assembly and 10 in the Senate. New Jersey moved from the 26th spot in CAWP's rankings to No. 17 for 2022.

"It will be interesting to see where New Jersey lands after the elections of this year," said CAWP Director Debbie Walsh.

Women representation in the New Jersey Legislature was at 16.7% as recently as 2005, according to CAWP.

Top 10 states for women's share of legislative seats, according to CAWP:

  • Nevada (58.7%)
  • Oregon (45.6%)
  • Rhode Island (44.2%)
  • Maine (44.1%)
  • Colorado (44%)
  • New Mexico (43.8%)
  • Maryland (43.6%)
  • Arizona (43.3%)
  • Washington (42.2%)
  • Vermont (41.7%)

New Jersey cracked the top 10 in 2014, but fell off after one year. That year, women needed to make up just 30.8% of a state's legislature in order for a state to make the list.

"When we were founded, less than 5% of state legislative seats were held by women; today, more than 30% are," Walsh said. "We're still, though, a long way from parity, and we're determined that it won't take another 50 years to get there."

Walsh said the goal is to have a state legislature that reflects the population of a state — not only in terms of gender, but race as well.

"When the government looks like the general population, we can, I think, have better representation," Walsh said.

New Jersey voters in 2021 elected an Asian-Pacific Islander woman (two, actually) to the Legislature for the first time — Shama Haider (D) and Sadaf Jaffer (D).

Women in the New Jersey Legislature (Political party-District)

Senate

Shirley K. Turner
New Jersey Sen. Shirley Turner (D) (AP)
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  • Kristin Corrado (R-40)
  • Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-5)
  • Sandra Cunningham (D-31)
  • Nia Gill (D-34)
  • Linda Greenstein (D-14)
  • Nellie Pou (D-35)
  • Teresa Ruiz (D-29)
  • Holly Schepisi (R-39)
  • Jean Stanfield (R-8)
  • Shirley Turner (D-15)

Assembly

Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R), Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D), Assemblywoman Marilyn Piperno (R) (New Jersey Office of Legislative Services)
Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer (R), Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer (D), Assemblywoman Marilyn Piperno (R) (New Jersey Office of Legislative Services)
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  • Linda Carter (D-22)
  • Annette Chaparro (D-33)
  • DeAnne DeFuccio (R-39)
  • Aura Dunn (R-25)
  • Kimberly Eulner (R-11)*
  • Vicky Flynn (R-13)*
  • DiAnne Gove (R-9)
  • Shama Haider (D-37)*
  • Sadaf Jaffer (D-16)*
  • Mila Jasey (D-27)
  • Angelica Jimenz (D-32)
  • Pamela Lampitt (D-6)
  • Yvonne Lopez (D-19)
  • Michelle Matskioudis (R-21)*
  • Angela McKnight (D-31)
  • Gabriela Mosquera (D-4)
  • Nancy Munoz (R-21)
  • Carol Murphy (D-7)
  • Ellen Park (D-37)*
  • Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-3)*
  • Eliana Pinto Marin (D-29)
  • Marilyn Piperno (R-11)*
  • Annette Quijano (D-20)
  • Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-15)
  • Beth Sawyer (R-3)*
  • Shanique Speight (D-29)
  • Shavonda Sumter (D-35)
  • Lisa Swain (D-38)
  • Claire Swift (R-2)*
  • Britnee Timberlake (D-34)
  • Cleopatra Tucker (D-28)

*First year in New Jersey Legislature

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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