Registration is now open for the 15th annual Leap into Leadership Conference, from Feb. 27-28 in Cheyenne, according to the Wyoming Women's Legislative Caucus (WyoWLC).

The event will open on the afternoon of Feb. 27 at the Blue Federal Credit Union Headquarters with a leadership workshop and networking reception.

Representative Cathy Connolly, WyoWLC Vice-Chair, said:

"We know that diverse voices are essential to achieving balanced solutions that serve everyone in our state," Connolly said. "It is our hope that Leap Into Leadership will continue to encourage Wyoming women to be part of the conversation and take on leadership roles for many years to come."

Wyoming ranks 28th among all states for the number of women serving in elected office at all levels, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, from state Senators to city council.

However, Wyoming ranks 45th across the country when it comes to women elected to the state legislature, with 17.8% of the members of the Wyoming House and Senate being women, five out of 30 in the Senate, and 11 out of 60 in the House.

Women make up 49% of Wyoming's population.

Nationally, state legislatures are 31.2% women, or 2,307 legislators out of 7,383, with 65.8% of them being Democrats compared to 33.3% Republicans.

Annie Wood, the planning coordinator for the WyoWLC, said it can be difficult for women to get their voice out there compared to more established members of the legislature.

"With Wyoming as it is, and we are very remote and it's a huge state and not a lot of population, and if I'm to get those voices out there and heard, can be difficult," Wood said. "If you already have a name honestly I think it's a little easier to jump in there. As a no-name to grow yourself and your presence in this amazing vast state, it can be hard. It can take a lot of work and sometimes it doesn't work the first time around. We've had many folks try again because getting your voice, message, platform out there sometimes just doesn't hit all ears."

Wood said it's important to have a more diverse group representing people in Wyoming both in elected positions and other leadership roles.

"It's about those balanced solutions," Wood said. "And again, nothing wrong with men, but honestly we all think differently, and women and men really think differently. I'm married and my husband and I are like 'what are you talking about.' Our brains work different, so to be able to bring more of that diversity together, that man and women together to have that conversation and more of a voice to balance it is really important going forward."

The conference will end with a legislative dinner featuring Wyoming Supreme Court Justices including Chief Justice Kate Fox, Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, and Justice Kari Gray.

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