A record number of women ran for elected office in 2018, and yet the female lawmakers who will finally, presumably tip the balance to full gender equality in Congress haven’t been born yet. Not even close.
The U.S. is at least three generations away from gender balance on Capitol Hill, by some measures, even as women make up 50.8% of the roughly 325 million people counted in the U.S. Census.
Torsten Sløk, New York–based chief international economist with Deutsche Bank Securities, charts the recent trend of a growing number of women seeking office, along with the share of women in Congress, and shows, in the chart below, that gender equality will be reached in 2108.
Pushing back the view to the period since 1917, the longer-term trend barring change shows that gender equality in Congress won’t be achieved until the year 2215, Sløk adds.
But trends can be fueled by bumper years, as 2018 was. A record number of women overall were running for office this year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. A record one-third of the candidates running for the House were women of color, according to Emily’s List, a Democratic-leaning nonprofit that supports women in politics. There were early signs of the election’s makeup; over 234 women won House and Senate primaries in 2018.
Even as more women populated the ballot for the 2018 midterms, fewer Republican women did. The defeat, just declared, of incumbent Republican Mia Love in Utah ensures that Republicans will lose 43% of their female representation in the House, down to 13 from 23, said Dave Wasserman, editor at the Cook Political Report, in a tweet. That means 90% of House Republicans will be white men.
And since Montana’s Jeannette Pickering Rankin became the first woman to hold federal office in the U.S. when she was elected to the House in 1916, women have never held more than 20% of congressional seats.
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