AWN predicts that a record number of women will be elected to Congress this year, but just just.
Just two members above the record set by this Congress, there will be 149 women serving in the US House and Senate during the 118th Congress, increasing the ranks of female representation.
When Alaska decided on Wednesday night that Rep. Mary Peltola, a Democrat, will represent the state’s at-large House seat for a full term after winning the special election earlier this year, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski will win reelection, the state carried women over that threshold.
With 124 women taking office in the House in January, a record number of women will be broken.
And not only will the 118th Congress see record numbers of women of colour, but there will also be a record number of Latinas and Black women in the House alone. The number of Black women in the House will increase from 26 to 27, and there will be one more Latina, for a total of 18 – the highest number ever.
With 22 freshman women in the House, more than half of that group will be women of colour, demonstrating the growing diversity of that body.
According to Kelly Dittmar, director of research at the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, “we’ve seen a pretty steady increase in the racial and ethnic diversity of women as candidates, nominees, and then officeholders at the congressional level, but more specifically, in the US House.”
“The US Senate still glaringly lacks diversity…. There is a general stagnation in the proportion of women of colour. Particularly, the proportion of Asian and Latina women will remain unchanged, while Black female representation would remain at zero.
One of those fresh voices entering the House is California’s newly elected representative Sydney Kamlager. She was chosen to serve as a state senator in place of retiring Rep. Karen Bass, who will go on to lead Los Angeles as the city’s first female mayor. While Kamlager expressed excitement about the diversity of the freshman class, she acknowledged that more work remains.
“I believe that people need to stop just talking about Black women and brown women and start acting on it. The fact is that there are more impediments for Black and brown women to enter this field of work than for other women and men, the Democrat stated. “We make fewer contributions when running than guys do. She continued, pointing out that female candidates are still frequently questioned about why they are not “at home taking care of your husband or your children.”
People are willing to accept a poor male candidate, but they anticipate the female candidate to be exceptional, she claimed.
Yadira Caraveo, a Democrat, is the first Latina from Colorado to be elected to Congress. She will be only the second female doctor to serve as a voting member of Congress in addition to being a state lawmaker and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. (In Washington State, the first candidate, Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier, was re-elected.)
Thinking back on both occasions, Caraveo remarked, “Kind of sad that it took till 2022.”
She claimed that her background in both medicine and state politics had prepared her for the fact that she would have to put in more effort to be given “less credit” than her male peers.
Pediatrician Caraveo stated, “It is, regrettably, something that I have seen throughout my tenure, both in medicine and in politics, and, regrettably, a difficulty that one gets used to, in some ways, but also, in other ways, continues to be painful.”
Even my staff members, she continued, “really noticed the difference in the way I was regarded or perceived as a woman of colour compared to some of the other candidates who were able to more easily acquire meetings or support from different organisations.”
marking the achievement
These women are conscious of the occasion, though.
“I didn’t grow up seeing what I am seeing in Colorado,” stated Caraveo. “I hope that the fact that I am the first Latina to serve in Congress—not just because I am a woman, but also because I am a woman of color—will make things a little bit simpler for the young girls I’ve treated in clinic. So that their candidacy and ability to serve in government are taken for granted and they never again have to talk about being the first of anything.
And Caraveo, who will represent a new district that Colorado won through the reapportionment process, emphasised the importance of what having more women in the legislature may entail.
She remarked, “I think my male counterparts typically approach things with a sense of competition, whereas we approach things with a spirit of partnership.”
Republicans will set a record by electing 42 women to Congress, breaking the record set by their Democratic counterparts. There are now nine Republican women in the Senate thanks to Murkowski and Republican Sen.-elect Katie Britt of Alabama. The number of Republican women serving in the House will increase to 33 in 2019 from 32 in 2018.
Three Latinas are among the seven Republican newcomers to the House, increasing the total number of Republican Latinas in the body to five.
Erin Houchin, a representative-elect from Indiana, noted that she is the first woman to represent her district. “Having the diversity of thought and experience is, you know, it’s critical to our representative democracy,” she said.
It seems like we’re making a difference for the younger generation, she remarked. Setting that example for my own daughters and other young ladies has special value for me.
Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio and the longest-serving woman in the House, has broken numerous records in the past. She won her first competitive reelection in years, and when she takes the oath of office in January, she will surpass former Maryland senator Barbara Mikulski’s record for the longest tenure of any member of Congress.
Since her first election in 1982, Kaptur has raised concerns about her party’s dominance by leaders from the coasts and how the industrial heartland of America, with its struggling middle class, is frequently overlooked in Washington.
The tenure represents a voice from the working class of people, who also happens to be a woman, which is my most heartwarming accomplishment, she said.