When Nancy Peolosi was first elected to Congress in 1987, there were only 22 women in the House of Representatives. There will be 71 women in the new Congress, making women 16% of of the House.
These women deserve a big round of applause. A recent study by Richard Fox and Jennifer Lawless found that the odds against women being elected in the U.S. are enormous. The biggest impediment is the advantage that incumbents have. But women are also less likely to feel that they are qualified to serve and less likely to be asked by party officials to run. Another impediment for younger women is childcare as women are still primarily responsible for the care of children and thus women are likely to be older when they are first elected, giving them less time to rise to the top of the ladder.
Clearly we have a long way to go in this country. Women make up a larger share of the national legislatures than they do in the U.S. in a whopping 79 countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as North Korea, China and Cuba.
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