The Number of Women in Congress Following the Midterm Election Shows Some Exciting Progress
If you follow American politics at all, you've likely heard the argument (or made the argument yourself) that if women make up half of the population, then they should make up half of Congress. Well, it sadly goes without saying that this is not the case. Before this year's midterm election, women accounted for 99 seats in Congress — 79 seats out of 435 in the House and 20 out of 100 in the Senate. Now that the elections are over, it only makes sense to count up that number again and see if any progress was made toward the goal of equality of the sexes in the senate.
After the 2014 midterm elections, there are 100 women in Congress (possibly 101 after Louisiana's December runoff), an addition of four women to the Senate and 82 women to the House. This is historical as there have never been over 100 women in Congress before. But as for that half of the population, half of Congress idea, we're still far from it.
This isn't to say that we should elect women who are less qualified than male politicians to Congress simply to satisfy a ratio, or that we failed as voters this time around. Even if all of the women running were elected, that would only be 123 women — 18 more than were serving previously and far from the 50 percent of representation mark. The fact is that women aren't running for Congress in as high numbers as men and that means this issue is not so much one of the midterm voting booth, but something that goes back further: a combination of women not being elected to positions that would allow them to then run for Congress and, before that, a reluctance to even see women as politicians in the first place.
Whatever the reason, and however far it can be traced back, it's something that needs to change. We need more women in Congress because they can best understand women's interests, which is a pretty big deal considering there are a hell of a lot of women in this country. Specifically, in this year's election there were a number of reproductive rights at stake as different candidates have different views they would try to enact if elected. For example, requirements about what contraception your health insurance through your employer would be required to cover and the right to choose to have an abortion.
That said, this year, there were more women elected to Congress than ever and that includes Mia Love, the first Republican African-American woman in Congress.
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