Number of Women in Congress Drops for First Time in 32 Years
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Jeannette Rankin (R-Montana), the first woman to be elected to Congress (1916)
There were 93 women serving in the U.S. Congress…until last week’s election. The 2010 campaign was not friendly to women, whose numbers in the House and Senate will drop once the 112th Congress convenes. The decline marks the first time in three decades that female representation has fallen in Washington.
From the late1970s until this year, the number of women representatives and senators steadily increased, from 17 in the 96th Congress (1979-1981) to a record high of 93 in the 111th Congress (2009-2011).
The exact number of women in the new Congress is not known because three races involving women are still undecided. If current vote totals hold up, there will be 17 women in the Senate and 73 in the House of Representatives, for a total of 90 (61 Democrats and 29 Republicans). This would mean that women will make up only 16.8% of the members of Congress, leaving the United States tied with Turkmenistan for 73rd place in the world in terms of female legislative representation.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Number of Women in Congress Set to Drop, Ending 30-Year Trend (by Bill Chappell, NPR)
Women in the United States Congress: 1917-2009 (by Jennifer E. Manning and Colleen J. Shogan, Congressional Research Service) (Table 3; pages 103-104) (pdf)
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