Friday, March 2, 2012
Jennifer E. Manning
Information Research Specialist
Colleen J. Shogan
Assistant Director and Senior Specialist
Ninety-three women currently serve in the 112th Congress: 76 in the House (52 Democrats and 24 Republicans) and 17 in the Senate (12 Democrats and 5 Republicans). Ninety-two women were initially sworn in to the 112th Congress, two women Democratic House Members have since resigned, and three others have been elected. This number (93) is lower than the record number of 95 women who were initially elected to the 111th Congress.
The first woman elected to Congress was Representative Jeannette Rankin (R-MT, 1917-1919, 1941-1943). The first woman to serve in the Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA). She was appointed in 1922 and served for only one day.
A total of 277 women have served in Congress, 177 Democrats and 100 Republicans. Of these women, 238 (152 Democrats, 86 Republicans) have served only in the House of Representatives; 31 (19 Democrats, 12 Republicans) have served only in the Senate; and 8 (6 Democrats, 2 Republicans) have served in both houses. These figures include one non-voting Delegate each from Guam, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA), who served in the House for 35 years, holds the record for length of service by a woman in Congress. Currently serving Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) holds the record for Senate service by a woman with 24 years.
Of the 39 women who have served in the Senate, 14 were first appointed and 5 were first elected to fill unexpired terms. Nine were chosen to fill vacancies caused by the death of their husbands, and one to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of her father. Of these 10, 3 were subsequently elected to additional terms. Hattie Caraway (D-AR, 1931-1945) was the first Senator to succeed her husband and the first woman elected to a six-year Senate term.
A total of 31 African American or black women have served in Congress (1 in the Senate, 30 in the House), including the 15 serving in the 112th Congress. Eight Hispanic women have been elected to the House; seven serve in the 112th Congress. Six Asian American women have served in the House, including four in the 112th Congress.
Eighteen women in the House, and 10 women in the Senate, have chaired committees. In the 112th Congress, one woman chairs a House committee, and five women chair Senate committees, with one female Senator chairing two committees. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, in the 110th and 111th Congresses.
This report identifies the names, committee assignments, dates of service, and (for Representatives) congressional districts of the 277 women who have served in Congress. It will be updated when there are relevant changes in the makeup of Congress.
Date of Report: February 21, 2012
Number of Pages: 110
Order Number: RL30261
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