In terms of sheer numbers alone, women will have a significant impact on Congress in 2013 with a total of 98 women holding seats in the House and Senate.
Both legislative bodies are seeing more women than in previous years with record high numbers: 78 women in the House (58 Democrats, 20 Republicans) and 20 in the Senate (16D, 4R). The 2012 election, which proved the power of the women's vote, not only returned female incumbents but also brought a record number of female newcomers to Congress -- 24 of them (20D, 4 R), making it the largest class of female newcomers since 1992. Nearly a quarter of the women serving in the 113th Congress are freshmen.
U.S. House of Representatives
This new high of 78 female Representatives is 5 more than the previous record of 73 set between 2009 and 2012. Of these women, 59 are incumbents who won re-election (42D, 17R) and 19 are new to Congress (16D, 3R). Of the newcomers, 15 won House seats that were open either by redistricting or retirement (12D, 3R) and 4 defeated incumbents in the House (4D). Three non-voting delegates from Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC were re-elected.
The freshmen female Representatives in the House are as follows (listed by party designation and alphabetical order by states):
Democratic Newcomers to the House
- Arizona - Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema
- California - Julia Brownley, Gloria Negrete McLeod
- Connecticut - Elizabeth Esty
- Florida - Lois Frankel
- Hawaii - Tulsi Gabbard
- Illinois - Cheri Bustos, Tammy Duckworth
- Nevada - Dina Titus
- New Hampshire - Ann McLane Kuster, Carol Shea-Porter
- New Mexico - Michele Lujan Grisham
- New York - Grace Meng
- Ohio - Joyce Beatty
- Washington - Suzan DelBene
- Indiana - Susan Brooks, Jackie Walorski
- Missouri - Ann Wagner
- 1 African-American - Joyce Beatty
- 3 Asian Americans - Tammy Duckworth, Tulsi Gabbard, Grace Meng
- 2 Latinas - Lujan Grisham, Negrete McLeod
- 13 African Americans (13D)
- 9 Latinas (7D, 2R)
- 6 Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (6D)
The Senate also tops out with a record number of women -- 20 (16D, 4R) in the 113th Congress, making that body fully 1/5th female for the first time in history. This was an increase of 3 from the 17 women serving in the Senate in 2012 (12D, 5R).
Of the 11 women (10D, 1R) who won Senate seats in the 2012 elections, 5 were newcomers and 6 were incumbents; they join the 9 women (6D, 3R) who were not up for election this year.
The 5 freshmen female Senators are as follows (listed by party designation and alphabetical order by states); all won open seats except for Elizabeth Warren who defeated an incumbent:
Democratic Newcomers to the Senate
- Hawaii - Mazie Hirono
- Massachusetts - Elizabeth Warren
- North Dakota - Heidi Heitkamp
- Wisconsin - Tammy Baldwin
- Nebraska - Deb Fischer
- California - Dianne Feinstein
- Michigan - Debbie Setabenow
- Minnesota - Amy Klobuchar
- Missouri - Claire McCaskill
- New York - Kirsten Gillibrand
- Washington - Maria Cantwell
- The only woman nominated for governor by a major party in the 2012 election, Democrat Maggie Hassan won in New Hampshire, making that the first state ever to have an all-female Congressional delegation as well as a female governor. The top five elected officials (governor, two Senators, and two House Representatives) are all women.
- Four states -- Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Wisconsin -- elected a woman to the Senate for the first time, while in Nebraska the first woman elected to serve a full term in the Senate was Deb Fischer.
- Tammy Baldwin is the first openly gay person ever elected to the Senate.
- The first Asian American elected to the Senate, Mazie Hirono, is also the second woman of color to ever serve in the Senate as well as being the first Senator born in Japan.
- Tulsi Gabbard is the first Hindu-American in Congress.
- Two new women in the House are also military veterans: Tammy Duckwork and Tulsi Gabbard.
"Record Number of Women Will Serve in Congress; New Hampshire Elects Women to All Top Posts." Press Release from the Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University, CAWP.rutgers.edu. 17 November 2012.