Do our leaders reflect the diversity of our people? Insights and analysis on gender and representation in federal positions.

Twenty-six years ago, the media nicknamed 1992 the “Year of the Woman in Politics”, when a record number of women sought and won political seats in both houses of Congress. Lately there is talk that 2018 may be another such breakthrough year – and it would be sorely needed.  Women constitute more than half of the U.S. population but hold fewer than 20% of elective political offices, a vast underrepresentation that is often exacerbated by racial disparities as well. These gaps have persisted stubbornly for the two-and-a-half decades since 1992 with only incremental changes, but the combination of Trump’s election in 2016 and the #MeToo movement of 2017 seems to be spurring a record number of women to run in 2018. Is there really another “Year of the Woman in Politics” in store?

With exit polls fresh from the recent Alabama U.S. Senate election, many observers are scratching their heads and wondering why 63% of white women voters in Alabama voted for Republican Roy Moore, in spite of the fact that he faced numerous allegations of sexual predation against young girls. While surely not all of these white women voters were evangelical Christians, given that the race was in Alabama, which is 89% Christian (of which nearly half are evangelical), we can safely assume that many were.

With exit polls fresh from the recent Alabama U.S. Senate election, many observers are scratching their heads and wondering why 63% of white women voters in Alabama voted for Republican Roy Moore, in spite of the fact that he faced numerous allegations of sexual predation against young girls. While surely not all of these white women voters were evangelical Christians, given that the race was in Alabama, which is 89% Christian (of which nearly half are evangelical), we can safely assume that many were.

Donald Trump owes his presidency to women. Many political observers had assumed that Trump’s boorish behavior would alienate women at the polls and, while exit polls showed that Trump won just 42% of them to Clinton’s 54%, Trump secured a majority of the votes of white women in the 2016 election. One of the strongest contingents in this bloc comprised outspoken, conservative women leaders who honed their political skills in the Tea Party—a group that I profile in my book Tea Party Women.

One of our key inquiries on the subject of human rights in the Gender Policy Report is how the face of U.S. diplomacy will be transformed by the Trump Administration. Of particular interest are key changes in U.S. institutions and personnel, which signal a shift on international protections for human rights and gender equality around the world. This inquiry leads us to the most prominent female presence in foreign policy, Nikki Haley, confirmed by the Senate on January 24, 2017, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Since state legislatures often serve as pipelines to higher office, the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) examined the number of women of color in each state legislature, both as a proportion of women and as a proportion of legislators overall. Nationally, women of color hold 5.9 percent of all state legislative seats; 23.7 percent of women lawmakers are women of color. As more policy authority is devolved to states, representation of women and women of color becomes even more important substantively, as well.