Year of the Woman

The 2018 midterm elections are a record-breaking year for women in American politics, with more women running for US Congress and state-wide office than any previous election.

This year’s wave of women candidates is notable beyond its sheer size. It is also incredibly diverse. A greater number of women of colour, Indigenous women, and those from LGBTQ or religious-minority communities have announced their candidacies for elected office, increasing the visibility of these sometimes-marginalised segments of the American population.

The surge in women candidates has so-far been accompanied by promising victories in many primary battles and special elections. In the context of highly-publicised discussions of gender inequality and sexual harassment, many commentators have drawn parallels between the current political climate and 1992’s Year of the Woman, which led to an unprecedented number of women entering the US House of Representatives in a single election.

Women’s political participation in the United States

As with most other democracies, like Australia, women are heavily under-represented in American political office. They are only 20 per cent of the 535 total members of US Congress, including 23 senators and 84 representatives. Eleven US states lack a single woman in their delegation to the national legislature altogether.