Record Number of Women to Serve in the 117th U.S. Congress
At least 131 (100D, 31R) women will serve in the U.S. Congress in 2021, surpassing the previous record of 127, first set in 2019, according to data compiled by the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. A record 106 (83D, 23R) women have already been elected to the U.S. House, including 85 (75D, 10R) incumbents and 21 (8D, 13R) non-incumbents. The previous record for women in the U.S. House was 102 and was set in 2019. Republican women are also close to breaking their record of 25 House members, set in 2006. Republican women currently hold 13 seats in the U.S. House. At 83 winners already selected, Democratic women are still short of their record of 89 women House members, set in 2019. Democratic women currently hold 88 seats in the U.S. House. As of now, 29 (19D, 10R) women House nominees - including 6 (5D, 1R) incumbents and 23 (14D, 9R) non-incumbents - remain in races that are not yet called.
Republican women have already surpassed the record for non-incumbent women House winners, with 13 women winning their 2020 races. The previous record of 9 was set in 2006. So far, 8 non-incumbent Democratic have won election this year; the record for freshman Democratic women House winners is 35, set in 2019. In contrast, already 5 Democratic women incumbents - all responsible for flipping districts from Republican to Democrat in 2018 - were defeated in 2020. No Republican women incumbents have been defeated in 2020 races already called.
As it stands now, 25 (17D, 8R) women will serve in the U.S. Senate in 2021, falling short of the record of 26 set in 2019, including 7 (2D, 5R) women who have won election in 2020 and 18 (15D, 3R) incumbent women senators who were not up for re-election this year. These numbers will change should incumbent Senator Kamala Harris ascend to the vice presidency or Senator Kelly Loeffler win her runoff election on January 5th.
"Women's representation in American politics has been, through struggle and persistence, on a long, if occasionally fitful, upward trajectory. With all that progress, at best women will still make up less than thirty percent of Congress in 2021," said CAWP Director Debbie Walsh. "The 2018 cycle was a story of Democratic success; this year we are seeing significant gains on the Republican side. Advances for women must come from both sides of the aisle if women are to achieve equal representation in Congress."
As many races remain too close to call, these numbers will change as results are determined. For the most current data about women in the 2020 elections, visit CAWP's Election 2020 Results Tracker, and for full results about women in the 2020 elections, head to CAWP's Election Analysis.
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about women's political participation in the United States. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about the role of women in American politics, enhance women's influence in public life, and expand the diversity of women in politics and government. CAWP's education and outreach programs translate research findings into action, addressing women's under-representation in political leadership with effective, intersectional, and imaginative programs serving a variety of audiences. As the world has watched Americans considering female candidates for the nation's highest offices, CAWP's five decades of analyzing and interpreting women's participation in American politics have provided a foundation and context for the discussion.