03/30/2012 01:11 pm ET

Michigan Women In Politics: Celebrating Elected Officials For Women's History Month

As Women's History Month winds to a close, HuffPost Detroit takes a moment to honor the women leaders who are toiling away for the good of Michigan and its citizens. That's right: ladies in the legislature. There are some remarkable women working on behalf of Michigan residents at the city, state and national level.


But it's still not enough. Just 21 percent of Michigan's state legislators are women. Of our 15 U.S. representatives, only one is female. (Sen. Debbie Stabenow brings gender parity to our U.S. Senate delegation.)

So where are all the women in politics? It's not just a Michigan issue, but affects the whole country. One ranking system puts the U.S. at number 78 in the world for percentage of women public office-holders.

There are a number of explanations for the gender gap, but a recent study from American University and Loyola Marymount University showed women have less political ambition than men. Some groups are actively working to encourage women to run for office, including the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. The group's bipartisan 2012 Project is in part responsible for an April 21 training event for women considering running for office, Ready to Run, at Grand Valley State University's Women's Center.

Despite the challenges that exist for women politicians, Michigan has had a number of admirable female elected officials since the state's women got the vote in 1918.

The first woman in office, Republican Eva McCall Hamilton, was active in the suffrage movement and served in the state Senate for one term. She tied for the title of third woman to become a state Senator in U.S. history. Ruth Thompson was the first Michigan woman elected to U.S. Congress, in the 1950s. In the city of Detroit, late civil rights activist Erma L. Henderson was the first black councilwoman, elected in the 1970s. And of course, a recent landmark is the election of two-term former governor Jennifer Granholm in 2002, the only woman governor the state has had -- so far.

Below, we've put together a list of some of the women leaders who've shaped Michigan, at the federal and state level, as well as in Detroit. We hope they will inspire a younger generation of women to step up to public office.

Michigan's Elected Women Officials