Women in the Capitol Press Corps

Since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women have played an important role in the Wisconsin media. Shown below is a graph showing female representation in the Capitol Press Corps according to percentage by year. The first woman to become a member of the Capitol Press Corps was Alice Krombholz of the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1935, who would serve for 4 consecutive years. Representation grew and waned until the mid-1970s. During this time, Liz Beyler became the first woman in the Capitol Press Corps as a representative of radio networks, and would serve for a total of 16 years from 1969 to 1987 with WIBA. In the same year of 1969, Mary C. Macken would become the first woman in the Capitol Press Corps to work for a television station, reporting for WHA-TV (Madison). 1977 marks the first major spike towards the long term growth of women, with 11.11% of the Capitol Press Corps comprised of women reporters. Just before the turn of the century, the percentage of women in the Capitol Press Corps reached 34.21%, before dropping sharply in 2001. Since then, the percentage of women in the Capitol Press Corps has steadily grown, and currently rests at 45.45%.

While the ratio of women-to-men serving in the Capitol Press Corps has been rising consistently, the percentage of women in the legislature has stagnated. Below is a graph comparing the percentage of women in the Wisconsin State Senate, the Wisconsin State Assembly, and the Capitol Press Corps since 1989. While the percentage of female reporters has grown from 14.29% to 42.86%, roughly a 28% increase, the percentage of women senators has only grown from 5% to 9%, a 4% increase. The percentage of women assembly members has actually shrunk by 10%, from 32% in 1989 to 22% today.

The chart below breaks down the percentage of women who have represented written publications, television stations, or radio networks in the capitol press corps. A majority of the women who have served in the press corps have represented written publications, yet in 1969, May C. Macken was the first woman to represent television stations. Since then, 101 women have represented television stations while 100 women from written publications. While the number of women representing television and written publications has remained nearly even, radio stations have the lowest female representation in the press corps. Since 1969, 67 women have represented radio networks.

Thank you to the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau for compiling the names and organizations of all who have served in the capitol press corps since 1919.

Helpful websites for additional information:

Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau

Wisconsin Women’s Council

University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries

*Information is obtained from the blue books and provided to the Assembly Sergeant-at-Arms. All statistics are based on this information and any inaccuracies in the original data would not have been corrected.