SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There are 105 lawmakers in the South Dakota legislature.
Roughly a third are women.
This session marks a century since the first woman served in the state legislature.
The late Gladys Pyle can be seen in this composite photo of the South Dakota House of Representatives in 1923.
The late Huron native became the first woman to serve in the state Dakota legislature.
“I never felt picked on. Of course, some of the men opposed what I wanted. I think the controversial things I introduced were requiring women to serve on juries because I felt because I felt women had a right to a trial by their peers,” Pyle told journalism student, Steven Schaefer, 1979.
Women weren’t allowed to serve on juries in the state until the late 1940s.
Pyle went on to make more history.
She was the first woman elected as secretary of state in South Dakota.
“It kind of started this notion that women can be elected officials in this state, specifically Secretary of State. After Gladys, there is this long line of women secretary of states in South Dakota, so she kind of started that process,” said Matthew Reitzel with the South Dakota State Historical Society.
It’s not a surprise Pyle was a trailblazer.
In an interview with KELOLAND news, she described her parents as pioneers.
“I couldn’t very well be anything else,” Pyle said.
Many years later, that’s how she’s being remembered.
Pyle was also the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate without being previously appointed.
There’s much more audio from Pyle on the South Dakota State Historical Society’s website.