The low representation of women in the government, specifically in Congress, continues to be a pressing problem in US politics. The current 117th session of Congress has a record number of women serving as its members. Thus, 27% of seats, 144 of 539 in the House of Representatives and the Senate, are presently occupied by female senators (Blazina & Desilver, 2021). However, the proportion of women in Congress remains far below the proportion of women in the overall population of the United States (Blazina & Desilver, 2021). The main reasons for female underrepresentation in Congress are the bias against women in politics, lack of recruitment, and the continuing expectation of women to be primary care providers for children.
Even today, women are less likely to be suggested to run for Congress and be offered financial support when putting forward their candidacy. According to Brechenmacher (2018), there are significant barriers to entry at the local level, with male-dominated parties being more resistant to women entering the political field. Furthermore, women are less likely to nominate themselves to run for Congress due to the existing bias and lack of financial support. Thus, over half of female state legislators believe it is more difficult for women to raise funds to support their candidacy due to the lack of access to crucial networks (Brechenmacher, 2018). In addition, the societal expectation of women to be the main caregiver to children prevents many high-impact donors from supporting women, with few provisions for childcare and parental leave being granted to women in Congress.
Overall, although women occupy over a quarter of the seats in Congress, the issue of underrepresentation persists. Women more often experience barriers to entry into politics, with male-dominated political parties resistant to women joining them and running for Congress. Furthermore, women struggle more with securing funding for their campaigns and are not supported in their roles as primary caregivers. Thus, more steps need to be taken to achieve reasonable representation of women in Congress.
Blazina, C., & Desilver, D. (2021). A record number of women are serving in the 117th Congress. Pew Research Center. Web.
Brechenmacher, S. (2018). Tackling women’s underrepresentation in U.S. politics: Comparative perspectives from Europe. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Web.