Updated April 10, 2021
US Congressional Women
Historically, 387 women (252D, 135R) have served in the U.S. Congress to date:
- 42 (25D, 17R) in the Senate only
- 329 (216D, 113R) in the House only
- 16 (11, 5R) in both the House and Senate
86 women of color (74D, 4R) have served in the U.S. Congress to date: 45 have been Black, 13 Asian American/Pacific Islander, 20 Latina, 2 Native American, 3 Middle Eastern/North African, and 3 multiracial.
In 2021, 141 (103D, 38R) women hold seats in the United States Congress, comprising 26.4% of the 535 members; 24 women (24%) serve in the U.S. Senate, and 117 women (26.9%) serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Four women non-voting delegates (2D, 2R) also represent American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the United States House of Representatives.
Of the 147 women in the Current Congress: 10 identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander, 26 identify as Black, 15 identify as Latina, 1 identifies as Native American/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian, 1 identifies as Middle Eastern/North African and 96 identify as white. Source: Rutgers.edu – Women in the U.S. Congress 2022
2021 was a historic year for many demographic groups of women, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, with newly elected Black women, Indigenous women, Latina women and Asian American and Pacific Islander women breaking records in the U.S. House.
While Democratic women won big in the 2018 midterms, Republican women made record gains in 2020. Republican women made notable gains in Congress in the 2020 elections, nearly doubling the number of women in the House and Senate. The numbers are especially dramatic in the House, with the number of women rising from 13 to 29.
It is evident that in states across the country, women are winning. But the fight is not over. Women in the U.S. House will be only 26.9% of all members, with 28 Republican women and 89 Democrat women.
There are still four states, Alaska, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Vermont, who have never sent a woman to the U.S. House after the 2020 election, only 11% of the U.S. House were women of color.
After the 2020 election, women in the U.S. Senate were only 24% of all members, with 16 Democrat women and 8 Republican women. There are still 17 states who have never had a female Senator and only 3 women of color will serve in the 117th Senate. Source: Women’s Public Leadership.
While the prominence of women in high profile congressional races has risen over the past few cycles, state-level contests across the country have also seen a significant uptick in women candidates.
With each presidential election cycle since 2012, women made up a larger and larger share of gubernatorial and state legislative candidates. Between 2016 and 2020, the percentage of women candidates saw its largest jump, from 25 percent to 32 percent. That’s a continuation of the trend from the 2018 midterms, when record numbers of women ran for office.
Women also only make up 30.3% of all statewide elected executive officials. In 2021, only 9 women will serve as governor and there are still 20 states that have never had a female governor.
Nearly every state saw a higher percentage of women candidates in 2020 than four years earlier. In 23 states, the proportion of women candidates increased by at least 10 percent since 2012. Two states — Nevada (49 percent) and New Mexico (44 percent) — came close to reaching gender parity among candidates. The two states with the lowest proportion of women candidates in 2020 were South Carolina (23 percent) and West Virginia (18 percent).
At the state level, the New Mexico Legislature is now a majority-female for the first time. Nevada not only held its majority-female Legislature after the 2020 election, but it grew to more than 60% of seats that will now be filled by women.
Most of the gains made by women at the state level were made by Democrats. Women made up 44 percent of all Democratic candidates in 2020, up from 33 percent in 2016. While men made up 60 percent of Democratic challengers in 2016 contests, women outnumbered men as Democratic challengers for the first time in 2020.
Republican women also made gains in state races, though they were less pronounced. Women made up nearly 23 percent of 2020 Republican candidates, up from 18 percent in 2016. The biggest jump came from non-incumbent Republicans. In 2016, nearly 19 percent of Republican challengers were women. That figure jumped to 27 percent in this year’s elections. Source: Open Secrets News.