Texas Politics - The Legislative Branch
  1. Tradition and Modernity
  2. Looking Ahead
  1. Sessions
  2. Special Sessions
  3. Bicameral Structure
  4. Membership
  5. Compensation
  6. Terms of Office
  1. Formal
  2. Informal
  3. Party
  4. Gender, Race, Ethnicity
  5. Incumbency
  6. Age and Occupation
  1. Historical Perspective
Powers and Immunities
  1. Bills
  2. Resolutions
  3. Administrative Powers
  4. Investigative, Impeachment
  5. Immunities
Presiding Officers and Powers
  1. Senate Pres./Lt. Governor
  2. Speaker of the House
  3. Pro Tempore Positions
  1. Committees
  2. System Impact
How a Bill Becomes a Law
  1. Intro, Referral
  2. Committee Action
  3. Floor Action
  4. Conference Committee
  5. Governor's Desk
Citizens Legislative Power
  1. Constitutional Amendments
  2. Initiative and Referendum
10  Conclusions
  1. Reforms
  2. Citizen Participation
  1. Print-friendly format
  2. Key words and phrases
  3. Multimedia resources
  4. Lt. Governors table
  5. Speakers table
Gender in the Texas Legislature Gender in the Texas Legislature
Race in the Texas Legislature Race in the Texas Legislature
3.4    Gender, Race, and Ethnicity

In the 1970s more women began to participate directly in state politics, and at about the same time, so did Latinos (Mexican Americans, primarily). By 2003, women had gained thirty-two seats in the House (about 21 percent of the total) and four seats in the slower-to-change Senate (about 13 percent). (See this chapter's feature on Gender in the Texas Legislature.)

Both chambers have become more diverse racially and ethnically as well. In the twenty-eight years between the 62nd legislature and the 78th (from 1971-1999), the percentage of Mexican Americans in the House rose from 7.3 percent to 20 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of African Americans in the House rose from 1.3 percent to 9.3 percent.

Similar changes are evident in the Senate, whose membership in 1971 included only one Mexican American and one African American (3.2 percent each of the total membership). By 2003, those numbers rose to seven (22.6 percent) and two (6.5 percent), respectively. (See this chapter's feature on Race in the Texas Legislature.)

The impact of these and other trends has been a weakening of the historically restrictive "informal qualifications" for membership in the state Legislature. While lagging behind the social transformations in the broader society, today's legislature is much more diverse than even a generation ago.

Texas Politics:
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University of Texas at Austin