1. News & Issues

Record Number of Women in Congress in 2009

Though Fewer Candidates Ran, More Won in Highly Competitive Races

By

Updated November 14, 2008
Although 2008 did not see a record number of women running for seats in the US Senate and House of Representatives, more women than ever before won their races to set an all-time high for women serving in Congress - a milestone that will be established when the 111th Congress convenes in January 2009.

That's according to the Center for Women and American Politics at Rutgers University, a research, education and public service center that serves as a bridge between the academic and political worlds.

CAWP director Debbie Walsh noted:

Many women were nominated for winnable seats, so more women won. Along with incumbents seeking re-election, we saw women contending for competitive open seats and challenging vulnerable incumbents. This year women were positioned for success, not merely offered up by parties as 'sacrificial lambs,'

From information compiled by CAWP, here is the breakdown of women serving in Congress in 2009:

US Senate

17 women total
  • 13 Democrats
  • 4 Republicans
  • 4 won seats in this election - 2 incumbents, 2 challengers
This marks a record number of women holding Senate seats. The previous record was set in 2008, with 16 female Senators.

US House of Representatives

74 women total
  • 57 Democrats
  • 17 Republicans
  • 10 newcomers (8D, 2R) join 64 incumbents (49D, 15R)
  • 5 were challengers (4D, 1R) who defeated incumbents
  • 5 were winners (4D, 1R) of open seats
  • 21 are women of color
  • 12 African-Americans (12D)
  • 7 Latinas (6D, 1R)
  • 2 Asian-Americans (2D)

Source:
"Record Numbers of Women to Serve in Senate and House."Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, 10 November 2008.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.