SACRAMENTO, CA - Rachel Michelin with California Women Lead has been sounding the alarm for months.
Women could lose up to seven seats in the state Legislature after next week's election ... bringing the total number of women serving to just 27 out of 120. That's less than one-quarter.
Michelin's had little luck convincing more women to run for a Senate or Assembly seat. She's found women won't run because of family commitments and because of Sacramento's famous partisanship and gridlock.
They look at the state Legislature and feel like what problems can I really solve. They don't seem to be solving a lot of problems," said Michelin.
Female voices are considered essential when developing policy ... take the national headlines male politicians made this year about reproductive rights or rape.
Critics say the debate would have been different with women included.
"All rape is a crime, and they wouldn't qualify that on the floor of the Legislature," said Kathy Kneer with Planned Parenthood Affilitates of California. "That's the advantage of having women. They have a very unique perspective."
At the state level, years of unprecedented cuts to the budget have mostly affected women, and some wonder who will look out for them.
I feel that the things that are important to women, such as childcare, education and elder care, things like that ... we won't have strong voice on those issues," said St. Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.
Recruiters often turn to local government to find potential candidates, but the numbers there aren't great either.It's roughly just 24 percent.
We're going to wake up November 7th and the make-up of the Legislature could look very different than it did the morning of November 6th"," said Michelin.
She is already looking for candidates for the 2014 and 2016 elections.