Carrie Elizabeth Blazina and Drew DeSilver at Pew:
Counting both the House of Representatives and the Senate, 144 of 539 seats – or 27% – are held by women. That represents a 50% increase from the 96 women who were serving in the 112th Congress a decade ago, though it remains far below the female share of the overall U.S. population. A record 120 women are serving in the newly elected House, accounting for 27% of the total. In the Senate, women hold 24 of 100 seats, one fewer than the record number of seats they held in the last Congress.
This analysis counts voting as well as nonvoting members of Congress. Figures for the 117th Congress exclude two House seats that were vacant as of early January. It also excludes Sens. Kamala Harris, who is expected to resign her seat ahead of her inauguration as vice president on Jan. 20, and Kelly Loeffler, who lost a runoff election in Georgia earlier this month. Both are set to be replaced by men.
How we did this
Women make up a much bigger share of congressional Democrats (38%) than Republicans (14%). Across both chambers, there are 106 Democratic women and 38 Republican women in the new Congress. Women account for 40% of House Democrats and 32% of Senate Democrats, compared with 14% of House Republicans and 16% of Senate Republicans.
The 2020 general election sent just one new congresswoman to the Senate, Republican Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, making her the first female senator to represent that state.
Republican women made significant gains in the House in the most recent election cycle. Of the 27 newly elected representatives who are women, two-thirds (18) are Republicans. Between the 115th and 116th Congresses, the number of GOP women in the House fell from 25 to 15. That number doubled this year to 30, the highest total ever.
California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat and the first female speaker of the House, is serving her fourth term as speaker after being reelected earlier this month.
The partisan gender division hasn’t always looked this way. Until the 1929 stock market crash, most of the dozen women elected to the House were Republicans, and for several decades afterward the two parties were generally close in numbers in that chamber. But the gap widened in the 1970s and has persisted, despite a temporary narrowing during the Reagan-Bush 1980s. Of the 232 women elected to the House in 1992 or later, 157 (68%) have been Democrats, as have 27 of the 42 women (64%) who have served in the Senate since 1992.