Skip to main content

Status Quo Remains for Women in High Office

The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., is among the most architecturally impressive and symbolically important buildings in the world. It has housed the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives for almost two centuries. Begun in 1793, the Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended, and restored; today, it stands as a monument not only to its builders but also to the American people and their government. (Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

For female politicians, the 2010 election brought mixed results. On Tuesday, voters in three states elected female governors: Susana Martinez (R-NM); Mary Fallin (R-OK); Nikki Haley (R-SC). Martinez, a Latina, and Haley, an Indian-American, are the first two women of color to serve as governors, according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University.

After they take office, these women will bring the number of female governors to six, four of whom are Republicans.

Meanwhile, the record for the largest number of female governors serving simultaneously is nine in 2004 and again in 2007, according to CAWP, a research organization focused on women's participation in politics. 

In Congress, the number of women in power may remain constant or dip slightly. Depending on the outcome of contested races in Alaska and Washington, the U.S. Senate will, at most, maintain its number of female members at 17. When members of the U.S. House of Representatives take their seats in January, there will be between 70 and 74 female members. There are currently 73 female members of the 435-member body, according to CAWP's tallies. 

Mirroring the national trend after a rancorous election, female Republican candidates performed better than women Democratic candidates.

Wynne was a reporter at The Stamford Advocate. She has interned at Discover magazine and has freelanced for The New York Times and Scientific American's web site. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Utah.