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Women in the United States Congress: Historical Overview, Tables, and Discussion

CRS - Women in the United States Congress: Historical Overview, Tables, and Discussion, Jennifer E. Manning, Information Research Specialist; Colleen J. Shogan, Deputy Director CRS; Ida A. Brudnick, Specialist on the Congress. December 16, 2013.

“A record 102 women currently serve in the 113th Congress: 82 in the House (63 Democrats and 19 Republicans) and 20 in the Senate (16 Democrats and 4 Republicans). One hundred one women were initially sworn in to the 113th Congress—1 female Republican House Member has since resigned, and 2 Democratic House Members have been elected. This is higher than the previous record number of 95 women who were initially elected to the 111th Congress.

  •  The first woman elected to Congress was Representative Jeannette Rankin (RMT, 1917-1919, 1941-1943). The first woman to serve in the Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA). She was appointed in 1922 and served for only one day. Hattie Caraway (D-AR, 1931-1945) was the first Senator to succeed her husband and the first woman elected to a six-year Senate term.
  • A total of 298 women have served in Congress, 194 Democrats and 104 Republicans. Of these women, 254 (165 Democrats, 89 Republicans) have served only in the House of Representatives; 34 (21 Democrats, 13 Republicans) have served only in the Senate; and 10 (8 Democrats, 2 Republicans) have served in both houses. These figures include 4 non-voting Delegates, 1 each from Guam, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • A total of 33 African American women have served in Congress (1 in the Senate, 32 in the House), including 17 serving in the 113th Congress. Ten Hispanic women have been elected to the House; nine serve in the 113th Congress. Nine Asian Pacific American women have served in Congress (8 in the House, 1 in both the House and Senate), including seven in the 113th Congress.
  • Nineteen women in the House, and 10 women in the Senate, have chaired committees. In the 113th Congress, 1 woman chairs a House committee, and 5 women chair Senate committees, with 1 female Senator chairing two committees.
  • This report includes a discussion of the impact of women in Congress as well as historical information, including the number and percentage of women in Congress over time, means of entry to Congress, comparisons to international and state legislatures, records for tenure, firsts for women in Congress, women in leadership, and African American and Asian Pacific American women in Congress. The report may reflect data at the beginning or end of each Congress, or changes during a Congress. See the notes throughout the report for information on the currency of the data.”

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