Washington Leads the Way
1883: Washington territory grants women voting rights, making it the third territory with women's suffrage, after Wyoming and Utah.
1888: All-male territorial Supreme Court revokes women's voting rights, saying they conflict with federal law
1910: Washington becomes the fifth state in the nation to enact women's suffrage.
1911: An eight-hour workday for Washington women (except in fruit and fish canneries) is adopted; federal law for men and women is not phased in until 1940.
1913: Minimum wage established for women; national law follows in 1938.
1943: Equal pay for equal work becomes law; federal version passed in 1963.
1970: Washington is the fourth state to broadly legalize abortion beyond special cases such as when a woman's life is endangered—three years before Roe v. Wade established a nationwide constitutional right to abortion.
1986: Washington state workers, mostly women, receive more than $500 million in the largest comparable worth settlement in the U.S.
1993: Washington leads the nation in percentage of women in the state Legislature from 1993-2004, including 40.8 percent in 1999, then a record. (Washington ranks 4th in 2019 with 40.1%.)
2003: Women account for a majority of Washington Supreme Court justices. Only Minnesota had a majority of female justices sooner.
2004: First state with a woman governor (Chris Gregoire) and two women U.S. Senators (Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray) at the same time.
2017: Fifth state to enact a paid leave law for workers welcoming a new child. Funded by employees and employers, the law takes effect in 2020.