Women and the United States Government


When it comes to making decisions, women are often called upon to use their expertise, experience, passion, understanding, leadership, and knowledge to foster solutions for problems. Across the country, women are making decisions in their homes, in schools, in classrooms, at Fortune 500 companies, in multimillion dollar organizations and within their churches. Despite the progression of the last 50 years, the speed to increase the numbers of women making decisions at our highest levels of government has operated at a turtle’s pace.

For the first time in history, women account for a little over a quarter of the members of the United States Congress. Out of the 539 seats, 144 are held by women. Considering the percentages, the number is low. In the context of how many women were in Congress a decade ago, the increase is significant. There were only 96 women serving then. 

Currently, there are 120 women serving in the House of Representatives. There are 24 Senators who are women. Once the numbers are broken down, the numbers are staggering. Yes, there has been progress but it’s frustrating to see how much progress still needs to take place. When broken down along racial lines, the facts are even more jarring.

Although the balance of women and men in leadership positions is skewed in favor of men in nearly every industry, it’s glaringly noticeable that the higher the position is on the organizational chart, the likelihood of a woman occupying the position is rare. 

That’s why I want to focus on the US government’s judicial, legislative and two offices within the executive branch. Let’s examine some numbers.

This country was founded 244 years ago. 

In 244 years, a woman has never been elected as president. It took 240 years for a woman to nominated as the candidate for a major party. 

244 years after the declaration was signed, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman to be elected to the nation’s second highest office. 

The first woman to serve in the House of Representatives was Jeannette Rankin in 1916. Since then, 351 women have been elected with the majority serving after 1991. In 1932, the first woman senator was elected. In addition, 57 women have held that title. 

The Supreme Court, which operates under a lifetime appointment, was established in 1789. There have been 115 justices. Five have been women – a whopping 96% have been men.

If I said these numbers weren’t discouraging, that would be untrue. Writing this information down was discouraging because it speaks to how little we, as women, are valued the higher the stakes are. As evidenced by the numbers, men believe other men make better leaders. Notice I didn’t say decision makers. After typing that, I’m not even sure they believe men are better leaders. I believe the decisions center around power. 

Often, women who are in position to effect change, do. Women know what it’s like to be overlooked or told to remain in our places because of our genetic makeup. Women know how to keep tapping into the glass ceiling to create cracks until it’s shattered.

And that is what we’ll keep doing.

While the data is insulting, it also speaks to the persistence and resilience of women. Yes, it took 244 years for a woman to occupy one of the top two seats in the United States. Had we given up a long time ago, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Yes, there still aren’t enough women serving in Congress. However, if we had given up, the number of women serving wouldn’t have increased over the last ten years. 

Yes, the number of women who have confirmed to serve on The Supreme Court is unacceptable. However, if we give up we can almost guarantee a country that won’t make any additional progress for the next generation. 

Giving up is easy. 

Fighting is a challenge.

If the end goal is worth it then you keep pressing forward even if you never see the physical fruits of your labor.

Onward ladies.


Kassaundra Shanette Lockhart is a freelance writer.

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