New Hampshire Senate Makes History

"It's very much a citizen legislature, which means, again, there's not a lot of value to incumbency," Scala said. "It's not like people are making a profession out of politics here. So that means, again, that you can have citizens, including female citizens, [that] have a way into politics, whereas in other states where it's more [a] professional legislature people hold on to those seats like grim death."

State Sen. Peggy Gilmour took a chance and ran for the state senate this year. She had never held any public office before.

"The other day, I got a letter in the mail addressed to the honorable and Mr. Peg Gilmore, and when I showed it to my 13-year-old granddaughter she said, 'Oh that's way cool!'"

Gilmour has run a hospice center and will continue to juggle her health care work with her new job as senator.

That's what most of the women (and men) of the New Hampshire state Senate do. They work jobs as varied as lawyers, professors, nurses and financial planners, while also putting in about 40 hours a week from January to June at the state Senate.

All 13 of the female senators are also mothers.

Years ago, on one particularly grueling day, Larsen remembers having to quietly ask the then-president of the state senate if they could take a recess so she could pick her daughter up from piano lessons.

All of the women said they didn't make an issue of their gender during their campaigns.

"Absolutely not. I don't think any of us did," said state Sen. Jackie Cilley.

They conceded they may run the place a little differently than a male majority would, but it isn't their intention to focus on a slew of "women's issues."

The biggest issue facing the Senate when it returns to work in January is a looming budget mess.

And one day, members said, they hope no one will notice whether the majority is male or female.

"While it's festive to celebrate this historic occasion, true equality will come when electing women or people of color is no longer a news story," Larsen said.

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