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Vote Mama Foundation launched Politics of Parenthood to answer a seemingly simple question: How many mothers with kids under 18 are serving in state legislatures?

Despite the fact that gender equity in politics is a widely researched topic, there has been no data available on the representation of mothers serving as legislators at any level of government — until now. 

Mothers comprise an all-but-unexplored population that is critical to understand, not just as a subpopulation of women, but as a distinct population in its own right that is integral to a well-functioning government and to achieving gender equity in politics. Representation that reflects our diverse population is vital for a healthy democracy, both symbolically and practically. It is an awesome responsibility to represent the interests of a community, and it is one that can never be performed perfectly. When legislators’ perspectives do not align with their communities, their policy priorities fail, or even harm, their constituents. The reality is our legislators are charged with solving challenges that most have never personally faced.

American policies were not designed to support mothers because they weren't created by them.

Just as lived experience affects how policy is approached, it affects how we assess and solve problems. The first step to solving any problem is collecting enough information to understand who is impacted and how. That is why Vote Mama Foundation has collected demographic information not just on mothers serving in state legislatures, but all state legislators who use she/her or they/them pronouns. 

More information about our legislators should be accessible to researchers and the public alike. State of Motherhood compiles publicly available information to establish a baseline population size with demographic data including but not limited to: age, geographic location, parental status, number and age of children, time spent in political office, race/ethnicity, level of education, and marital status. Data is collected through extensive monitoring of news and social media and builds on the work of other organizations. Because the data relies on publicly available information, it is not infallible or exhaustive. However, to the knowledge of Vote Mama Foundation, it is the largest and most complete demographic dataset of state legislators in the U.S.

Politics of Parenthood Survey

Vote Mama Foundation launched the pilot phase of the Politics of Parenthood Survey in early 2022 to confirm the information included in the dataset and expand on details that are not publicly available for all, or even most, legislators. In addition to information about parenthood, the survey aimed to identify state legislators who are primary caregivers for people other than their minor children (i.e. an elderly parent or an adult child with care needs) and asked about their experiences related to the cost and accessibility of child and dependent care. Vote Mama Foundation is using this pilot survey to inform future research directions that will rely more heavily on qualitative data about state legislators, motherhood, and caregiving.

With detailed demographic data on women and nonbinary state legislators now publicly available, Vote Mama Foundation will continue to expand our research in identifying, analyzing, and breaking down barriers that systematically exclude moms with young children from accessing political positions of power. The data presented here is long overdue, but it is just the beginning of our collective understanding of the experience of being both a legislator and a caretaker. There are many more data points we are unable to collect without talking to legislators themselves. How many legislators have children with disabilities? How many are primary caregivers to people other than their children? How does caregiving impact their work as legislators? We need qualitative data - to listen to mamas, not just describe them. 

We have already begun collecting demographic data on federal legislators, and the focus of the next report in the Politics of Parenthood series will be the 118th U.S. Congress. 

Politics of Parenthood


Representation Matters — in Government and in Data

Vote Mama Foundation is the only organization tracking the number of mothers with  minor children serving in state legislatures across the country and has produced the largest publicly available dataset of state legislators' full demographics.


of adults in the U.S.

are moms of young children


of state legislators

are moms of young children

We need to elect 926 more mamas

to achieve equitable representation in state legislatures across the U.S.

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