As women’s representation in U.S. politics has increased, a significant majority of Americans, 53%, express the view that there are still insufficient women in high political offices in the United States. Moreover, many Americans perceive significant obstacles for women candidates aspiring to such positions, according to the latest data from PEW Research Centre.
Women in High Political Office; U.S. SENATE
At the beginning of the 118th Congress in 2023, there were 25 women serving in the U.S. Senate, just shy of the previous record of 26 women senators. Of these 25 women senators, 16 are Democrats, and nine are Republicans. In terms of racial and ethnic diversity, 22 are White, two are Asian American, and one is Hispanic. Notably, no Black women currently serve in the Senate, nor do any American Indian or Alaska Native women.
Women in High Political Offices; U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
On the first day of the 118th Congress, 124 women were voting members in the House of Representatives, constituting 28% of the chamber’s voting membership. Additionally, four women serve as nonvoting delegates representing specific regions. Of these voting representatives, 91 are Democrats, and 33 are Republicans. Racial and ethnic diversity is evident, with 26 Black women, 18 Hispanic women, seven Asian American women, two Native American women, and one multiracial woman among them.
Women in High Political Offices; STATE LEGISLATURES
Women’s representation in state legislatures stands at 29.9% of state senate seats and 33.7% of state house or assembly seats. Several women hold leadership roles, with three serving as state senate presidents and another 13 as senate presidents pro tempore. Eight women are speakers of state houses. Notably, Nevada boasts the highest percentage of women in its state legislature at 62%, while West Virginia has the smallest share at 11.9%.
To date, 49 women have served as governors in 32 states. In 2023, eight Democratic and four Republican women hold gubernatorial positions. Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming was the first woman governor, elected in 1924. Ella Grasso of Connecticut was the first woman governor elected without spousal connections, in 1975.
President Joe Biden’s Cabinet includes 12 women out of the 25 designated Cabinet or Cabinet-level positions, marking the highest share of women in history at 48%. Three of the top Cabinet posts – vice president, secretary of treasury, and director of national intelligence – are held by women for the first time. Racial and ethnic diversity is notable, with representation from White, Black, Asian American, Hispanic, American Indian, and multiracial women.
FORTUNE 500 CEOS
In 2023, the share of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies reached an all-time high of 10.6%, with 53 women leading major firms. Katharine Graham of The Washington Post Co. was the first woman CEO to make the Fortune 500 list in 1972.