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One Third Of Major U.S. Cities Have Not Elected A Female Mayor [Infographic]

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at November 19, 2021

Michelle Wu, the new mayor of Boston, was sworn in this week after becoming the first woman and first person of color to be elected to the office in the city’s history. In fact, many major U.S. cities have yet to elect their first female mayor, among them the country’s largest, New York City and Los Angeles.

Out of the 37 cities with 500,000 or more inhabitants that exist in the U.S. according to the 2020 Census, 12 have not elected a female mayor. This includes Denver, Detroit, Milwaukee and Memphis as well as Jacksonville, Florida and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Great Lakes—with the exception of Chicago—stand out as the only region with an overall lack of female mayors, while all major cities in Texas have elected at least one woman to the office.

No major U.S. city has had more than three elected female mayors, partly due to the fact that women did not typically assume the office before the middle of the 20th century. Baltimore, Charlotte, North Carolina and Sacramento, California have achieved this feat, at times electing female mayors back-to-back. Sacramento started earliest—in 1948, when local college administrator Belle Cooledge was elected mayor by the city council. In Sacramento’s case, it took another 35 years for the next woman, progressive Anne Rudin, to assume the role in 1983.

Bertha Landes: Seattle’s mayor in 1926

An even earlier female mayor can be found in Seattle. Social activist Betha Knight Landes was elected in 1926 and served one two-year term as the first female mayor of a major American city. In a difficult time for female politicians, her platform was cleverly coined as “municipal housekeeping”, hinting at the candidate’s plan to clean up corruption. Being a mayor of the Prohibition era, Landes fought bootleggers and enforced regulations for amusement parlors. Again, the city’s second female office holder followed much later. Outgoing mayor Jenny Durkan was elected in 2017 but did not seek reelection and will leave the position at the end of the year.

According to the Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics, out of the 1,621 mayors and other officials who performed mayoral duties in U.S. cities, towns or civil divisions with populations over 30,000, 25% were female as of May 2021.

Charted by Statista


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