Female candidates set a new record this year: a historic number has run for the House, even exceeding the number that did in 2018.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, 490 women have applied for a House seat so far, up from the 476 women who walked in 2018. This number is likely to eventually be higher, as the submission deadlines of 14 states will not be until later in the year.
“In 2018, amid the excitement of a record year for female candidates, we often asked if we were in the middle of a one-off peak in candidatures driven by unique circumstances or if we saw the emergence of a new normal,” CAWP director Debbie Walsh said in a statement. “This is a sign that the momentum is not ending.”
The increase in the number of candidates for the House this year is caused by more candidate applications on both sides of the aisle, Walsh said. In 2018, much of the wave was seen in Democrats, who saw a large influx of female candidates, strongly fueled by pushbacks against President Donald Trump. This cycle has also seen a notable revival among Republican women competing for the House.
Currently, 195 Republican women have applied for a seat in the House, breaking the previous record of 133 Republican women running in 2010. It’s a noteworthy trend: The Republican Party previously struggled to recruit more female candidates, and saw the number of GOP’s female representatives drop in 2018.
“We are especially encouraged to see Republican women rise and seek office – we will never gain parity without women running and winning on both sides of the aisle,” Walsh said.
Members of both sides have indicated that recruiting more women to take office was a goal for this cycle, although some of these candidates are not elected to Congress. For example, in some neighborhoods, women compete with each other. In other countries they run into fairly safe incumbents.
However, the increase in women running for Congress remains significant, given the lack of gender parity in the House and Senate. Such gains suggest that this cycle could well build on the remarkable progress made in 2018, when a record number of women were not only walking but elected.
Congress remains a long way from gender equality, but recent elections mark progress
127 women are currently serving in Congress, with 101 in the House and 26 in the Senate. Women include this term about 23 percent of the House and 26 percent of the Senate.
As these numbers indicate, the gender difference in both rooms is still remarkable. For every woman in the congress there are about three men. And the split along party lines is even stronger. About 38 percent of democratic lawmakers are currently women, while only 8 percent of republicans are.
This cycle could boost the number of women in Congress and continue the steps taken in 2018, although the likelihood of that outcome will become clear as more states complete their primaries this summer.
Maintaining and expanding past gains is critical to increasing women’s representation in government, a change that can affect which policies are prioritized.
A study by Michele Swers, professor at Georgetown Universityfound, for example, that liberal women in Congress sponsored far more bills related to women’s health than their male counterparts. Female lawmakers supported an average of 10.6 bills related to the subject, roughly double the number supported by their male colleagues.