Will 2018 Be the New Year of the Woman?

With new senator, the 115th Congress now boasts the most women to date

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith is administered an oath by Vice President Mike Pence during a mock swearing-in ceremony in the Capitol’s Old Senate Chamber on Jan. 3. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With the seating of Minnesota Democrat Sen. Tina Smith on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the 115th Congress is now able to claim 106 female members — the most of any Congress to date.

Smith is the 51st woman to serve in the Senate since the first was appointed in 1922. There are currently 22 female senators serving, an all-time high for the chamber, and 84 women serving as voting representatives in the House (just one below the record of 85 set in 2015).



2018 marks the start of the second century of women serving in Congress, with the first — women’s rights advocate Jeannette Rankin, a Montana Republican, taking her seat in the House of Representatives back in 1917. The midterm year could mean more gains for women, with EMILY’s List — which backs female Democrats who support abortion rights — boasting that more than 26,000 women approached them in 2017 about running for all levels of public office. That doesn’t mean all of them will run, and it certainly doesn’t mean all of them will run for Congress. But its a notable figure given that only 920 women approached the group during the entire 2016 cycle about running.



Simone Pathé contributed to this report.

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