Record Number of Women to Serve in Congress


Chloe Wong, Staff Writer

A record number of women will serve in the 117th Congress, with a peak number of Republican women serving in the House. While some races are still uncalled, at least 141 women have secured positions in next year’s Congress—breaking the previous record of 127 in 2019.  

By January, at least 116 women will be serving in the House, with 25 in the Senate. According to CNN, more than a third of women in the 117th Congress will be women of color, including Democrats Cori Bush, Nikema Williams, and Marilyn Strickland. While women of color are still severely underrepresented in Congress, with the majority of their female colleagues being white women, this is still a significant accomplishment in a nation that has often undermined the progression of people of color. 

“The social political and economic systems in which we operate have not always welcomed [Black women] into positions of power and influence, and that is starting to change,” Strickland said in an interview with The Hill.

“I think people are more open-minded to it,” she continued. “But it’s still a lot of work, and for a lot of people, there’s still cognitive dissonance when they imagine us in the halls of Congress and sometimes can think that local government is as far as we can go.” 

Female Democrats are not the only ones to make strides in 2020, as the GOP has also seen a record number of 15 non-incumbent Republican women winning seats in the House. While Republicans typically scorn the idea of “identity politics” (i.e. running based on one’s sexual orientation, race, religion, or gender), women in the Republican party accomplished a significant amount in the 2020 election. During the 2018 midterm elections, the GOP only managed to elect one new Republican woman to the House. 

This year, they have flipped the statistic, as demonstrated by Republican Mischelle Fischbach’s upset victory.  Fischbach managed to flip Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District by winning the race against Democrat Collin Peterson, who has held the position for over 30 years. She is one of many Republican women who have turned the tide in 2020, narrowing the GOP’s looming gender gap.  

This is unanticipated for a party that typically lacks the foundation to support female candidates since pro-abortion, pro-female organizations often choose to promote Democrats. 

There is still a significant difference between the two parties, of course, and the GOP is not nearing equality half as quickly as Democrats are—according to NPR, women account for nearly 40% of Democrats on Capitol Hill, compared with about 15% of Republicans. But regardless of partisanship, it is impressive that women have made such progress in a field that often deems them too emotional or unskilled for political offices. 

The barrier-breaking event comes only days after the election of Senator Kamala Harris to Vice President-elect. When inaugurated, Harris will make history as the first African-American, Asian-American, and female Vice President. Many hope that her election and these events in Congress signal a new political phase for America—an era where women (and women of color) can finally reach equal representation in the U.S. government.


Photo courtesy of CNN.COM