Chart of the Day: We Haven't Really Had a Year of the Woman Yet

Feb 24, 2012Bryce Covert

Women have yet to get even a quarter of the seats in Congress, but we make up over half the population.

The first Year of the Woman was 1992, when a number of women were elected to the Senate. A lot of elections since then have been dubbed that as well, and the 2010 midterms were supposed to be another female sweep, yet their numbers actually declined slightly in that election.

But taking a step back for a bit, this chart makes it seem a little silly to say that any year has truly been a Year of the Woman for the United States Congress (h/t Andrew Sullivan):


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The chart comes from a new report by the Congressional Research Service on the demographics of Congress. Note the highest value in the vertical axis of the first chart is just 18 percent. We haven't broken that mark in either the Senate or the House yet, even though women are over half the American population. It's been almost 100 years since the first woman was elected to Congress (not to mention that we've had the vote since 1920), yet we haven't even taken a quarter of the seats yet.

I've discussed the many reasons women don't run for office before. A lot of them are hardwired through socialization into women's heads at a young age. This is a systemic problem that doesn't have many quick fixes. But it's clear that we're doing a pitiful job of making our political representation look like an actual representation of our people.

Bryce Covert is Editor of New Deal 2.0.

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