Women Account for only 23% of House of Representatives Committee Witnesses

Thursday, September 11, 2014
All-male panel at House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on birth control

Underrepresentation in the U.S. House is a serious problem for American women, both those holding office and those testifying before Congress.


The Sunlight Foundation, an independent watchdog, found of the 5,575 people who have appeared or are scheduled to appear before House committees over the past two years, only 23% are women.


The House Committee on Agriculture had the lowest rate (13%), while the highest belonged to the Committee on Education and the Workforce (40%). For the record, women comprise 51% of the U.S. population.


As bad as the committee witness rate is, there is an even lower percentage of women on the other side of the table: only 18% of House members are female, while 20% of the members of the Senate are women.


Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University professor who has studied gender perceptions in the U.S., said she was disappointed to hear about the low number of women sharing their views and expertise before lawmakers.


“We shouldn’t be satisfied until women are represented in positions of authority in proportion to their representation in the population,” she told the Sunlight Foundation.

The survey was made possible by data recently made available by the House. The Senate has yet to release data in a format conducive to such analysis.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Women Make Up More Than Half the U.S. Population, Less Than One Fourth of U.S. House Witnesses (by Lindsay Young, Sunlight Foundation)

Women are Half the Population, but Only a Quarter of Candidates for Political Office (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Western States Most Likely to Elect Women to House of Representatives; 6 States Still at Zero (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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