Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Women and the 2014 Election

Women and the 114th Congress--Good News, Sorta (Or Is It Bad News?)

The Center for American Women and Politics (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey) has issued its "Election Watch" report for the 2014 election: "2014: Not a Landmark Year for Women, Despite Some Notable Firsts." While there is some improvement in representation for women, the pace is glacial. 

So, first, the good news: "At least 101 women--and possibly as many as 105--will serve in the 114th Congress" (CAWP). And then the bad: even with 20 women in the Senate and 81 in the House, women will still hold only 18.5 percent of the combined 535 seats in the U.S. Congress. If all five women whose races have not yet been decided (1 in the Senate and 3 in the House of Representatives) are ultimately elected, this percentage could climb all the way to 19.5 percent.

By way of contrast, there were 99 women serving in the 113th Congress, 20 in the Senate and 79 in the House.
This graph is from Slate's report on the election
The figures for statewide elective office aren't cause for much optimism either. While the highest rate of representative for women in statewide elective offices is 41.1 percent (Vermont), the lowest rates are grim (South Carolina, 10 percent; Louisiana, 12.5 percent; Oklahoma, 13.4 percent). 

As Gail Collins notes in her post-election op-ed, "Always Look on the Bright Side," at its current rate of growth, American women can expect to achieve equality of representation "sometime around 2078." That's about twenty years after women might finally achieve equal pay: the Institute for Women's Policy Research calculates that, if change continues at the same slow pace it has since the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act, it will take another fifty years, until 2058, for women to finally reach pay parity. 

Unlike Collins, I pretty much never look on the bright side.

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