How Many Women Are In Government Now? Elected Representation Still Drags Behind In A Serious Way
American voters fell short of making history on Tuesday when they elected Donald Trump. The momentousness of what could have been requires no further elaboration — half of all Americans are women, and yet we’ve only elected men to the highest office in the land. But Hillary Clinton’s close proximity to the Oval Office inevitably raises another question: Now, after the election, how many women are employed by the federal government?
We can start first with how many women make up elected federal officials, which is different from how many actually work for the federal government. Taking into account both Clinton’s near election and recently-concluded House and Senate races, women now make up 20 percent of Congress. Even by adding a net total of one more woman, the U.S. Senate broke a record for most women serving at once.
On Tuesday, Nevada elected the nation's first Latina U.S. Senator. Catherine Cortez Masto, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, made history when she beat out her Republican opponent, Rep. Joe Heck, in the race to fill the seat of retired Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. California also made history when it elected California Attorney General Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate. Harris, who has an Indian mother and a Jamaican-American father, is the first Indian American senator.
Depressingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, the United States lags behind many, many other countries in terms of female representation in government. In Rwanda, for example, women make up a whopping 64 percent of parliament. In Cuba, 49 percent of all representatives are women. Sweden, Bolivia, Senegal, Mexico, Iceland, Mozambique, Andorra, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Italy and even Saudi Arabia also had a higher percentage of women in government than men as of 2016. The same, sadly, can't be said for the United States.
Plenty of other countries also had women serving as heads of state long before America did. They include Israel, Germany, Iceland, the Philippines, Pakistan, Ireland, Liberia, Brazil and many others.
While the United States lags behind the rest of the world in female representation (it's at 97th, according to Vox), there is some better news when it comes to women working for the federal government in general. According to a 2014 report from the United States Office of Personal Management, women make up 43.3 percent of the federal workforce. Moreover, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office this year, women made up on 33.7 percent of all senior executives in the federal government, nearly double the percent of women in senior positions in the private sector.
It wasn't quite America's time to join the ranks of those countries who have elected women to the highest office. But no doubt, we're one step closer to breaking that pesky glass ceiling.