Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Women and the 117th U. S. Congress

 Women and the 117th U. S. Congress (convenes 3 January 2021)

I've waited to post on the representation of women in the U. S. Congress--two months after the 3 November 2020 election, the numbers are still not clear.

Graph from Represent Women

Ten days after the November election, reporting for the Represent Women website, Cynthia Richie Terrell wrote that, since numbers were still "trickling in," the final tally was still not clear: "we don't yet know the final tally for the number of women elected to Congress."

Still, she noted, the 117th Congress would show a significant increase in the number of women--and of women of color--elected to office. But, a note of caution: "the results also show that the vast majority of incumbents were re-elected and that while while 162 women ran as challengers just 8 have won as of today, for a total win rate of 4%. These incremental gains place the United States at about 70th globally along with neighbors Mali, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Bulgaria and Iraq [emphasis in the original]."

Today, the situation is still unclear. The Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics published data accurate as of 3 January
In 2020, 126 (105D, 21R) women hold seats in the United States Congress, comprising 23.6% of the 535 members; 25 women (25%) serve in the U.S. Senate, and 101 women (23.2%) 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.

As a 3 January 2021 CAWP press release makes clear, these figures will change:

• Senator Kamala Harris (D) will be sworn in as vice president on January 20th.

• Representative Marcia Fudge (D) has been selected to serve in the Cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

• Representative Deb Haaland (D) has been selected to serve in the Cabinet as Secretary of the Interior.

• Senator Kelly Loeffler (R) is in a runoff election on January 5th.

• The House race in NY-22, featuring Claudia Tenney (R), is undecided.

• Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) will be provisionally seated while the House race in IA-02 is under review by the U.S. House Committee on Administration. Miller-Meeks’ opponent – Rita Hart (D) – has petitioned for the review. . . . 

Counts below do not include 4 (2D, 2R) women who will serve as non-voting delegates in the 117th Congress.

So, the good news. A total (so far) of 144 women will serve in the 117th U. S. Congress, which "surpasses the previous record of 127 . . . set in 2019."

 But if you're a reader of this blog, you will know that I am never satisfied. So the bad news: that new record of 144 women is still pitiful--that represents only 26.9% of all members of the U. S. Congress. 

For previous posts on women in the U. S. Congress, click on the label, below.