Female Representation in the House

Historical numbers, but still a very male chamber.

NPR has a great piece on female representation in the 116th House:  What It Looks Like To Have A Record Number Of Women In The House Of Representatives.

One hundred twenty-seven. That’s how many women will be in Congress this year, up from 110 in the previous Congress.

It’s a jump that’s simultaneously so big and so small.

On the one hand, there are 15 percent more women in this Congress than there were last session. There are now a record number of women of color in the House. There are also a slew of firsts: Congress will get its first Native American women, Muslim women and youngest female member ever.

On the other hand, this year’s record-setting number of women will bring the share of women Congress members up from 20.6 percent … to 23.7 percent.

Overwhelmingly, these women are in the House. While the number of Senate women will increase by two, the number of House women will grow by 15 compared with those elected in the last Congress.

The piece has a number of graphics that I would recommend clicking through to see.

I will share the following of the House (gray, obviously, is male, and the women are depicted in color by party):In regards to partisan break-down (which is stark on the chart):

A defining feature of the record-setting wave of women coming into Congress is that it is nearly entirely Democratic. While there are 35 Democratic women freshmen in the House, there will be only one on the Republican side: Carol Miller of West Virginia.

Altogether, the number of Democratic women in the House will increase by 25 this year, while the number of Republican women will decline by 10.

Two (interrelated) things happened in 2018: Voters elected a blue wave, and that blue wave had a lot of women in it.

I am not, by the way, suggesting that the legislature should have the exact ratio of males to females as in the general population.  Rather, I am suggesting that the legislature ought to be far more broadly representative in regards to gender than it currently is.  Beyond the question of exact ratios, the truth remains that even these historically high number show how political power in Washington remains chiefly in the hands of males.

And, let’s be fair, while talk of “the patriarchy” is often made fun of, the reality is that, by definition, our government is run by men.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    I for one welcome our new estrogenic overlords.

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  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    The Dems are making progress toward a more representative congress while the Repugs go backward. https://thebulwark.com/actually-the-gop-needs-more-elise-stefaniks/

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  3. mattbernius says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    So far I have been impressed by what I have seen from The Bulwark. It’s cutting a path as a solid center right publication.

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  4. James Pearce says:

    Rather, I am suggesting that the legislature ought to be far more broadly representative in regards to gender than it currently is.

    I really hope that women will someday get to experience what a lot of men do: To find the legislature “representative in regards to gender,” but not in viewpoint.

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  5. @James Pearce: Viewpoint derives from experience. Therefore, diversity in experience leads to diversity in viewpoint.

    I would be more than happy, btw, for there to be more Republican women in the House as well.

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  6. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’d like to see more women in politics, but women in politics can be as horrible as men.

    And the idea of representation is dangerous because the right can elect horrible female politicians and then claim that they are being representative(That’s easier than debating paid leave or the overrepresentation of women in the services sector).

    That’s precisely what happened during the last election in Brazil.

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  7. @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Well, of course they can.

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  8. Scott F. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There is the Betari Model used in work culture transformation that posits that our experiences generate our beliefs which in turn generate our values which dictate how we behave in the culture we all share. Shared experiences therefore form the culture and the cycle continues.

    That’s why over time it becomes harder and harder to demonize “others” who you end up spending time with and why exposure to diversity will over time inexorably diversify what people believe and value. Corporations who want to remain productive and competitive have figured out the cultural diversification is an unalloyed good.

    Broader representational participation in Congress and state legislatures, not only gender, but race and creed, can only lead to better governance. Those advantaged by the status quo will not go quietly, but we will all be better for it.

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  9. James Pearce says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Therefore, diversity in experience leads to diversity in viewpoint.

    But putting more Democratic women into Congress won’t result in more “diversity in viewpoint” because Democratic women have rather homogeneous feminist views.

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  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Just a reminder: Pearce is totally not a woman-hater.

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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    I really hope that women will someday get to experience what a lot of men do

    And I really hope that men will someday get to experience what a lot of women do: You know, getting paid 75% what men do for the same work, womansplaining, being talked over, criticized for how they dress and wear their hair, constant sexual harassment, gropings, and the constant threat of rape.

    ETA: I take that back, I hope you do.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    because Democratic women have rather homogeneous feminist views.

    To be inflicted with feminist views… The horror… the horror…

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: He really is a caricature, isn’t he?

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  14. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @James Pearce:

    But putting more Democratic women into Congress won’t result in more “diversity in viewpoint” because Democratic women have rather homogeneous feminist views.

    There is diversity of viewpoints among Democratic Women. If we are going to argue that there are areas where Democratic Women can’t go because of liberal orthodoxy that applies to Democratic Men.

    The left has a obsession with identity that can sound pretty dumb(I remember people saying that even after a fascist was elected President of Brazil with the support of horrible congressmen and governors there was a spark of hope because some transwomen were elected or because a paraplegic woman was elected to the Senate), but Men does not menstruate or get pregnant, so there are some things here where the viewpoint of a woman can be important.

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  15. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Pearce is totally not a woman-hater.

    Are you going to start talking about my “mommy” again, Mr. Ally?

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    getting paid 75% what men do for the same work, womansplaining, being talked over, criticized for how they dress and wear their hair, constant sexual harassment, gropings, and the constant threat of rape.

    Being a man comes with its own set of challenges, so your wish came true!

    To be inflicted with feminist views…

    “Feminism” has become so toxic these days that I feel quite comfortable supporting women’s rights and gender equality without embracing it at all.

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  16. @Scott F.:

    Broader representational participation in Congress and state legislatures, not only gender, but race and creed, can only lead to better governance.

    Exactly.

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  17. James Pearce says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Men does not menstruate or get pregnant, so there are some things here where the viewpoint of a woman can be important.

    The viewpoint of women is not only important, it’s essential. But not every women is a progressive feminist, and getting back to my original comment, I can imagine the House containing ALL women, and the progressive feminists still being a small minority.

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  18. An Interested Party says:

    I would be more than happy, btw, for there to be more Republican women in the House as well.

    As long as the GOP is the Trumpian party, that outcome is extremely unlikely…

    I can imagine the House containing ALL women, and the progressive feminists still being a small minority.

    That does seem to strain the imagination…you really believe that most women disagree with progressive feminism? A moot point anyway, as women will never become a significant presence in the GOP hierarchy as long as Trump is the head of the party…

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  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Just a reminder, 100% of what Pearce says on this blog is for the purpose of showing/gaining street cred as a “principled contrarian.” This is the character he plays on the intertubes–remember the comments about “Nikki Haley 2020” bumper stickers and him not actually having one on his car.

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  20. Sleeping Dog says:

    @mattbernius:
    So far the Bulwark has been interesting. Of course, I’m of the opinion that the best criticism of an administration comes from those analyst that should be the admin’s nominal supporters, i.e. liberal commentators were much more incisive critics of Obama that conservative critics and I feel that conservatives have been more insightful in the criticism of Trump than liberals. Granted this is a very broad brush. I find that the natural opposition criticism often has a hysterical quality about it.

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  21. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @James Pearce:

    I can imagine the House containing ALL women, and the progressive feminists still being a small minority.

    I think that’s the point: most of the Democratic Women in Congress are relatively moderate. These type of candidates that say “Vote for me, I’m a woman” does not go anywhere outside of deeply liberal areas.

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  22. t says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Pearce is totally not a woman-hater.

    but you hate poor people

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  23. Ben Wolf says:

    @James Pearce:

    But putting more Democratic women into Congress won’t result in more “diversity in viewpoint” because Democratic women have rather homogeneous feminist views.

    That is not true. A third wave feminist is not a post-modernist feminist is not a Marxist or socialist feminist, and the differences among them are great. There is no more a “Democratic feminist view” than their is a “socialist view.”

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  24. wr says:

    @Resistance Ron: Wait, what happened to constitutional historian Jenos, as seen on another thread? Did you already forget that you’re pretending to be a scholar interested in a rousing discussion of issues and accidentally fall back into your usual whining that pointing out racism is actually racism? (Oh, sorry — “raaaaacism.”)

    Come on, Baby Jenos. If you’re going through all the trouble of inventing yet another new name, you should try to stick with the persona for more than two messages.

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  25. @Resistance Ron: Your previous post was deleted for violation of site rules.

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