Mildred Barber, Hellen M. Brooks, and Helen F. Thompson were the first female members of the Wisconsin Legislature, each elected to serve in the 1925 session. Originally, women elected state representatives were called "Assemblymen" like their male colleagues. In 1969, the official title for all Assembly members was changed to "Representative to the Assembly." The following facts provide a snapshot of the progress of women in the State Assembly:
Assemblyman Helen Thompson became the first woman to chair a committee (Engrossed Bills) in 1927.
Assemblyman Ruth Bachhuber Doyle tried, unsuccessfully in 1951, to secure employment for a female applicant to the Assembly Sergeant-at-Arms staff. The Sergeant refused to hire a woman. Ruth Doyle is the mother of James E. Doyle, the former Governor (2003-2010) and who served as Attorney General from 1991-2003. Ruth Doyle was the 4th generation of her family to serve in the Wisconsin Assembly, following in the footsteps of her father (Frank E. Bachhuber, 1933), grandfather (Andrew Bachhuber, 1885), and great-grandfather (Max Bachhuber, 1860, 1864 and 1875).
Representative Marcia P. Coggs was the first African-American woman elected to serve in the Assembly in 1977.
Representative Louise Tesmer became the first woman to serve as Deputy Speaker in the 1981 session.
Representative Mary Lou Munts was the first woman to co-chair the Finance Committee in 1983.
Representative Betty J. Nelsen was elected the first woman Republican Minority Leader in 1987.
Representative Barbara Notestein was elected the first woman Democratic Assistant Majority Leader in 1991.
Representative Judy Klusman was elected the first woman Republican Assistant Majority Leader in 1995.
Representative Shirley Krug was elected the first woman Democratic Minority Leader in 1998.
Representative Annette Polly Williams was the longest serving woman legislator in either house, who served in the Assembly from 1980 through 2010.
Representative Esther Doughty Luckhardt was the second longest serving woman legislator, who served in the Assembly from 1963-1983.
Representative Susan Engeleiter was the youngest woman elected to the Wisconsin Legislature. She was 22 when she took office in January 1975.
Representative JoCasta Zamarripa is the first and only Latina to serve in the Wisconsin Legislature, elected in 2011.
Representative Margaret Farrow became the 42nd Lieutenant Governor and the first female to hold the office when she was sworn in on May 9, 2001. She was appointed by Governor Scott McCallum and confirmed by both the Assembly and Senate to fill the vacancy created when Governor Tommy Thompson resigned from office and Scott McCallum became Governor. Margaret Farrow served in the Assembly from 1986-1989 and in the Senate from 1989-2001.
Representative Peggy Lautenschlager became the first woman elected as Attorney General in Wisconsin in 2003. She served in the Wisconsin Assembly from 1989-1992.
Representative Tammy Baldwin became the first woman from Wisconsin to be elected to the United States Senate in 2013. She served in the Wisconsin Assembly from 1993-1999 and the United States House of Representatives from 1999-2012.
Representative Gwen Moore served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1990-1993 and was the first African-American elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1993 and served until 2005. She was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2004 and continues to serve in that role today.