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A Look at Women Leadership in Congress

Disproportionate Representation By Cherise Charleswell, The Hampton Institute | News Analysis – truthout

“Political representation is defined as the election of officials, who then stand in for, and speak for a group of their constituents in the legislature, for a set period of time. Unfortunately, moneyed interests, the threat of being “primaried” by the tea party lunatic fringe, and other factors have dismantled this process. Over the last few years, and certainly for most of the Obama Administration, Congress has had a low approval rating – so much so that they have been nicknamed the “Do Nothing” Congress. These elected officials have been voting in lock-step with each other, and often opposite the opinions and desires of the American people. Consider the public’s desire to implement some degree of regulations on gun use in this country (In 2012, 54% wanted more strict laws, and 90% wanted to expand background checks), and Congress’s unwillingness to even deliberate on the matter. Thus, the questions have to be asked – Who are these congressional members really representing? What values do they represent? Who do they really speak for? What issues do they advocate for? What segment of the American populace do they look like?
  • So, what does the current representation of women in Congress look like? We can begin with the fact that, despite women (and girls) making up 50.8% of the U.S. population, women currently make up only 19.4% of the 114th U.S. Congress, which took office in January 2015.1 In terms of each chamber of Congress, women make up 20.0% of the Senate and 19.3% of the House of Representatives. A closer look of the 2015 Congress reveals the following:
  • 19.4% of Congress means that women only hold 104 seats out of 535
  • 20.0% of the Senate means that women hold 20 seats out of 100
  • 19.3% of the House of Representatives means that women hold 84 seats out of 435
  • In the 114th Congress, women have been sent from 31 of the 51 states as members of the House of Representatives.

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