Published: 28 October 2011 09:27 AM

During a Riverside event marking 100 years of women’s suffrage in California, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said Friday that government becomes more open when there are more women holding elected office.

“There is good academic research on what happens when women are at least a third of a legislative body,” Bowen said. “There is a lot less likelihood of backroom deals. Things are much more open. The other difference is women in office tend to look more for win-win solutions.”

Women first gained the right to vote in California in 1911, nearly a decade before the 19{+t}{+h} Amendment was ratified in 1920 giving women the right to vote nationwide.

Friday’s event at the Riverside Convention Center marked that milestone. It was sponsored by the Inland Empire chapter of California Women Lead, the American Association of University Women’s Riverside branch, and the League of Women Voters Riverside.

“We’re here today to celebrate,” Bowen told the audience. “We were ahead of the national curve, even in 1911.”

Bowen, a Democrat , was first elected secretary of state in 2006. She won re-election in 2010. Before becoming the California’s top elections official, Bowen served in the state Senate and Assembly. Earlier this year, she unsuccessfully sought a seat in Congress to replace former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Los Angeles.

In her brief remarks, Bowen discussed growing up in Illinois and protesting in the ninth grade against a rule barring girls from wearing pants. She spoke of a joke she used to play in the Capitol by sending out memos and asking people to call her office and ask for Susan B. Anthony and other women’s suffrage pioneers.

Her office took many calls from people who had no idea who the suffrage pioneers were, Bowen said.

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