Is There Only A New Hampshire 'Matriarchy' Because the State's Legislators Make Barely Any Money?


New Hampshire “turned pink” after November’s election, as the New York Times rather cutely puts it: after new congresswomen Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter are sworn into office on Thursday along with Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, the state will be the first to send a ladies-only delegation to Washington.

New Hampshire’s new governor, Maggie Hassan, is also a woman, as is the speaker of the State House and the chief justice of the State Supreme Court.

This news (or “matriarchy,” as the paper calls it) is definitely cause for celebration, and the way these women said they advanced through the decades is heartwarming:

Ms. Kuster said the number of women in office made it easier for women to provide encouragement and support to one another. “In some other states, there’s more of a dominant old-boy network,” she said.
Most of these women grew up with mothers who worked, which set an example for them, and are mothers themselves, which, they say, has given them practice at reaching compromise and solving problems.
“Never underestimate the power of a woman with a minivan and a cellphone,” Ms. Hassan said.

But are there any other reasons why New Hampshire has so many female representatives?

One reason is the size of the State House, a typical pipeline for aspiring politicians. It has 400 members, making it the largest of the states and the fourth-largest governing body in the English-speaking world (after the United States Congress, the British Parliament and the Indian Parliament). With so many seats available, women have a better chance of being elected in New Hampshire than they have in many other states.
New Hampshire also has a long history of volunteerism, and serving in the General Court, as the legislature is known, amounts to an act of volunteerism because it pays just $100 a year, plus mileage. Every year since 1975, more than 100 women have served.

“…because it pays just $100 a year.” Ah. Maybe there’s more to this story than “going pink,” then.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin