Measuring success: Women in America's 2020 legislative elections

Report / White Paper

April 12, 2021

Measuring success: Women in America's 2020 legislative elections



Executive Summary

2020 marked the historic election of Vice President Kamala Harris as the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian person to be vice president. But women’s political success in 2020 was not limited to the presidential level. After a record year for women in election 2018, the 2020 election marked continued progress for women in waging candidacies and winning elections at the congressional and state legislative levels. Unlike the historic victories for Democratic women in 2018, women’s legislative gains in 2020 were concentrated among Republicans. After a year of decline in representation across levels of office as a result of election 2018, Republican women rebounded in 2020 elections to reach new highs in legislative representation in 2021. Still, they continue to be the minority of women and of Republican legislators.

Measuring women’s electoral success means placing 2020 outcomes into historical and contemporary context. That is the work of this report. In addition to breaking down 2020 congressional and state legislative data by gender, race, and party and providing specific comparisons to the 2018 election, this report evaluates progress for women in electoral politics by looking beyond the numbers. The 2020 election reveals – via candidate paths to office and strategies for success – both maintenance and disruption of the gender and intersectional dynamics that have historically contributed to women’s political underrepresentation.

Click here to access the report published by the Center for American Women and Politics. 

Resource type: 
Kelly Dittmar
Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.
Publication year: 
Focus areas: