A Brief Account of Women in Government Today

Women today participate in all levels of national, state and local government, though at much lower rates than men. Women of color — as well as otherwise marginalized Social marginalization happens when a group of people are denied equal and adequate opportunity to determine their treatment by the members of the broader society. It usually includes the lack of representation, recognition of rights and equal redistribution of resources and services. women — are far less represented in all levels of government than their white, middle-class, heterosexual (or straight), able-bodied counterparts.

State Statistics

  • As of 2015, women held 24.2% of all statewide elective executive offices — 1,784 out of 7,383 available seats
  • Only nine of those 1,784 seats are held by women of color, less than half a percent of all statewide elective executive positions
  • Today there are only six women governors
  • Two of those six are women of color, one of the six is openly bisexual
  • Women make up 17% of mayors of cities with populations over 30,000
  • Of the 100 largest cities, only five women of color serve as mayor
Women in State Legislature 2015

Women in State Legislature 2015; Source: Women for American Women and Politics

National Snapshot

  • Of the 104 women serving in Congress, 33 are women of color: 18 African Americans, six Asian Americans and nine Latinas
  • That’s 31.7% of women serving in Congress, which is about the ratio of women of color to white women in the U.S., and so this serves as an example of the tremendous gains women of color have made in U.S. politics, despite an overall lack of equal representation
  • However, women of color account for 7.6% of Congress as a whole, though they are approximately 18% of the national population
  • Democrat Mazie Hirono, who is Japanese American and represents Hawaii, is the only woman of color in the Senate
  • This means that in the populations of the House of Representatives and Senate combined — 535 seats — women of color account for only 6.2%
  • Of the 20 women Senators in the 114th Congress, Senator Tammy Baldwin is openly gay, and of the 104 women Representatives, Kyrsten Sinema is openly bisexual

The lack of authentic representation among the women who are in elective office signals that significant work must be done in order to fight for progress collaboratively and inclusively.