Incremental Gains for Women in Congress

When the 114th Congress is sworn into office on January 3rd, 2015, there will be exactly the same number of women in Senate as the year before, 20, and a record-high number of women in the US House, 84. Overall, the total percentage of women in Congress will increase from 18 percent to 19 percent.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

At this rate, it would take more than another two generations of women to get to parity in Congressional representation. “Clearly this is not acceptable,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

With Mary Landrieu (D-LA) losing to Republican Bill Cassidy in a Senate run-off election this weekend, 20 women will serve in the Senate for the third year in a row. There is a notable difference in party divisions, as only 70 percent of the women in Senate are Democratic, compared to 80 percent in 2014.

Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women in Politics, noted that years when Republicans win many elections often do no yield well for women. “While Republicans won big across the country,” she said, “women remain seriously underrepresented among GOP officeholders.”

The number of women in the US House of Representatives, however, has increased from 74 to 84 – the highest amount yet. Due to a special election, Alma Adams (D-NC) became the 100th woman in the current Congress when she was elected to join the House.

The total number of women governors stays the same at five, and includes Gina Raimondo, the first woman elected governor of Rhode Island. Another record setter, Maura Healy of Massachussetts is the first openly LGBT woman to ever be elected to the position of attorney general.

Media Resources: Center for American Women in Politics Press Release 11/5/14; Feminist Majority Foundation

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