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Women in US Congress Over the Years

The current Congress has the most female representation in history.

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Jeannette Rankin of Montana was the first woman to serve in the Congress of representatives in 1917-1919. Since then, a total of about 332 women have served the United States government as senators, delegates, or US representatives. Women have significantly advanced their leadership roles in both politics and business. These women have served the US Congress almost continuously for a century now. During the early years, women would succeed their deceased husbands to Capitol Hill. The succession was the most common route that women would use to get to Capitol Hill. However, nowadays almost all women in Congress get there through the ballot. They seek the mandate to represent their people during elections. Their numbers have been increasing, especially after 1996. Rebecca Latimer Felton was the first woman to serve in the Senate. Rebecca Latimer Felton was appointed in 1922, and interestingly she only served for a single day. The first woman to succeed her husband was Hattie Caraway who became a senator from 1931 to 1945. She was also the first woman to serve a six-year term in the Senate.

Women in Congress

The number of women in the Senate started to increase gradually from the 1980s. However, this increase in the number of women was not consistent. The role of women in society began to be more broad and expanded. A record of seven women were elected in 1928 to the 71st Congress. Two more women joined them through special election increasing the number to nine. World War II and the Great Depression slowed down this progress. An upward trajectory was realized after the war when 19 women served in the house from 1961. From the 1970s, prominent figures such as Bella Abzug, Elizabeth Holtzman, and Barbara Jordan came up and joined the Congress. The numbers remained low until 1981 when they exceeded twenty for the first time. The big breakthrough came in 1992. This year was dubbed “The Year of the Woman.” Twenty-four new congresswomen and four female senators were elected to the house. Some of the reasons given by academics for this breakthrough were due to a large number of open seats. 31 of the 90 women made it to Congress by succeeding their late husbands either by appointment or elections.

The Future of Women in Congress

The current Congress has the most female representation in history. Women have a total of 107 seats in both legislative houses. The number of women running for office has dramatically increased creating a possibility of an increase in the number of women legislators come November. More than 100 women would be elected to the legislative houses for the first time. Currently, only 84 of them were elected. Analysts predict that the number of Republican women in the house is likely to drop while that of Democrats is likely to increase. This change in distribution would be realized after the midterm elections. A good number of female Democrats defeated their male counterparts during the primaries in states such as New York and Massachusetts. The female Republican candidates did not perform well in the primaries.

Women in Congress Over the Years

RankYearsNumber of Women in Congress
11917–19191
21919–19210
31921–19234
41923–19251
51925–19273
61927–19295
71929–19319
81931–19338
91933–19358
101935–19378
111937–19399
121939–19419
131941–194310
141943–19459
151945–194711
161947–19498
171949–195110
181951–195311
191953–195515
201955–195718
211957–195916
221959–196119
231961–196320
241963–196514
251965–196713
261967–196912
271969–197111
281971–197315
291973–197516
301975–197719
311977–197920
321979–198117
331981–198323
341983–198524
351985–198725
361987–198926
371989–199131
381991–199333
391993–199555
401995–199759
411997–199966
421999–200167
432001–200375
442003–200577
452005–200785
462007–200994
472009–201196
482011–201396
492013–2015101
502015–2017104
512017–2019104
522019-2021112

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