Women remain underrepresented in electoral politics compared to their share of the population. Using an original dataset spanning 1975–2019, we examine whether the presence of women in prominent political office leads to an increase in the number of women serving in state legislatures. We define prominence in two ways: the total number of women elected to statewide office and the length of a state’s history of electing women. We find that the prominence effect diverges by party. The election of prominent Democratic women leads to an increase in the proportion of Democratic women state legislators, while the election of Republican women leads to a decrease in the proportion of Republican women state legislators. Rather than serving as role models for women of both parties to enter the political pipeline, electing more women to prominent office is contributing to a greater representational gap between the parties in state legislatures.