With the recent election of Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House, there has been increased coverage of the role of women in politics. Pelosi herself refers to her accomplishment as “breaking through the marble ceiling.” It represents an ongoing trend of increased levels of women politicians. For example, Stephen Ohlemacher, in an Associate Press story, writes:

There were 22 women in the House when Pelosi was first elected to her California district in 1987. There will be a record 71 female representatives when she takes over as speaker, giving women 16 percent of the seats.

In a USA Today story, “Pelosi leads wave of women making political history,” Kathy Kiely reports that this election cycle marks record levels of women office holders. She reports that in Congress both chambers boast all-time-high membership by women and that among governors the “nine female chief executives ties the 2004 record.” There are 71 women in the House (including 10 new women represntatives) and 16 in the Senate (including 2 new women senators).

In spite of this progress, however, Kiely also reports that women remain under-represented:

“They make up 51 percent of the U.S. population but about 17 percent of Congress, 18 percent of governors and 24 percent of state legislators. No woman has been president or been a major party’s nominee.”

The Center for American Women and Politics provides an excellent site for the latest statistics and information about women’s participation in politics. They include a link to the names and states of all the currently elected women in congress, as well as a link to those elected to statewide offices. I also relied on their reports for both historical and current representation when discussing women’s participation in politics in Chapter 13.