Facts About Women in the House and the Senate

Learn about the history of women in the US Congress. This reference contains facts and figures about women in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
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Here are some facts about women who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Congress.

  • 260 women have been elected or appointed to the U.S. Congress. Jeannette Rankin, Republican from Montana, was the first woman elected to serve in Congress. On November 9, 1916, she was elected to the House of Representatives as Montana's Representative-at-Large to the 65th Congress; she served from 1917–1919.
  • There are a record number of women serving in the 111th Congress: 78 in the House and 18 in the Senate.
  • Of the women who have served in the House of Representatives and Senate, 44 were elected to fill vacancies caused by their husbands' deaths.
  • Seven women have served in both the House and the Senate.

EMILY's list (Early Money Is Like Yeast) is a political network to help pro-choice women Democrats get elected to political office in the U.S.

WISH List (Women In the Senate and House) is an organization that supports pro-choice Republican female candidates for Congress and governorships by contributing time or money to their campaigns.

Famous Facts and Firsts

  • Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican from Maine, holds the record for the being the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. Originally elected in 1940 to fill the vacancy left by her dying husband, she was then elected to the Senate in 1948.
  • Edith Nourse Rogers, a Republican from Massachusetts, holds the record for the longest service by a woman in the House of Representatives. Originally elected to fill the vacancy caused by her husband's death, she served from June 25, 1925, until her death on September 10, 1960.
  • Representative Patsy Mink, a Democrat from Hawaii, was the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress, in 1965.
  • Shirley Chisholm, a Democrat from New York, became the first black woman in Congress when she was elected to the House in 1968.
  • Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida, was first elected in 1989. She is the first Hispanic woman and first Cuban American to serve in Congress.
  • Representative Nydia Velazquez, a Democrat from New York, was elected in 1992 and became the first Puerto Rican woman to serve in Congress.
  • Representative Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, became the first woman to head a political party. In Nov. 2002 she replaced Dick Gephardt of Missouri as House Minority Leader. In Jan. 2007 she became the first woman to be Speaker of the House.
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