Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Women and the 116th U.S. Congress

The 116th United States Congress and a "Record Number of Women" (convenes 3 January 2019)

A great deal has written about the changing demographics of the 116th U.S. Congress--the House of Representatives, in particular, is remarkable for its great diversity. The Center for American Women in Politics notes that a "record number of women will serve in the U. S. Congress in January 2019."

But before we get too excited, here is a graphic illustrating the change in the number of women Representatives, from the 115th Congress to the 116th:

The 115th U.S. Congress,
Men and Women in the U.S. House of Representatives,
graphic from Business Insider

And here is the make-up of the  House of Representatives, 116th Congress:

116th U.S. Congress,
Men and Women in the U.S. House of Representatives,
graphic from Business Insider*

Wow. See that???? Huge change, huh?

There may be "historic gains" for women, men and women of color, and members of the LGBTQ community, and a greater range of ages, but "historic gains" still doesn't mean that much. 

The "record number" of women elected to the House this year is 102--of a total of 435 Representatives.* That may be a gain of 22%, but women still hold fewer than 24% of the seats in the House.

In the Senate, where there are 100 Senators, five women were newly elected; added to a woman appointed after the election and to the sitting members who are women, that brings the total to 25. So, 25% of the U. S. Senate is female.**

My math skills are not the best, but all this means that about 24% of the seats in the U.S. Congress will be held by women in 2019. May I remind you that women constitute nearly 51% of the population of the United States (50.8%, according to the most recent statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau).

If you've read many entries on this blog, you will probably be saying, "Damn, this crazy woman is just never satisfied." And you'd be right.

*As of 1 January 2019, the seating of a representative from North Carolina is still questionable, so there may be 434 congressmen at the beginning of the 116th Congress.

**After the CAWP report, dated right after the election, Martha McSally was appointed to the Senate in Arizona, bringing the number of women to 25.