For the first time in its 168 years, Portland is governed by a City Council that is majority women.

With the election of Jo Ann Hardesty in November, three of the five city commissioners, including Chloe Eudaly and Amanda Fritz, represent a third of all women who have served on the council ever.

Gender equity has been slow to arrive. But Oregon now ranks third among states for most women serving as state lawmakers, accounting for 41 percent of the Legislature.

Oregon Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle tipped the balance for statewide elected offices as well—three of those five offices are again held by women. And the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners is now, as it was before, all women.

Equity is a good goal in itself, but women at the helm could mean different results.

"Those women are also bringing up issues that matter to women," says Jillian Schoene, executive director of Emerge Oregon, which trains Democratic women to run for office. "The family- and women-centered issues being debated today are all long overdue discussions."