Midterm Elections: The Year of the Women

The surge of women elected to government positions has granted 2018 the title “Year of the Woman”. More women will serve in Congress than ever before. This midterm election was record breaking in a number of ways and inspires hope for what future elections might bring.  

 

This year we saw a historic increase in representation of women of color in office.

The first Latina governor is Michelle Lujan Grisham, a U.S. representative from New Mexico. The first Native American congresswomen were elected as well; Sharice Davids of Kansas is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and Deb Haaland of New Mexico is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe. Davids also made history as the first LGBTQ member of Congress. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim women in congress and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to serve in Congress.

 

So, why has there been such an increase of women in office?

The flood of women elected into office was largely driven by democrats, who took control over the House. A major motivating factor for women in this election cycle was the pervasive abuse of power of the Trump administration. Mikie Sherrill, who won in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District said she was driven to run by Trump’s “lack of respect” for women.

Respect and rising incivility proved to be a motivating issue in the midterms for female candidates, coupled with environmental protection and better healthcare. It's easy to see why the abusive rhetoric of the current political atmosphere may motivate more women to want to change the face of politics.

 

What does this mean for the future of women in politics?

This midterm election has been encouraging, but women still have a long way to go in terms of representation. Women in office are still largely outnumbered by men, despite being 51% of the population.

The percent of women compared to men in Congress increased from 20% to 23% in this election cycle, but that’s still a dismal disparity. The lack of representation of women is frankly terrifying and lends in perpetuating the backward thinking culture that the political community seemingly cannot outgrow.

 

Hopefully, this trend is one that will continue to grow, the face of politics has looked the same for too long. It's important that women see themselves represented in office, it will motivate more women to run, and the better the country will be as a whole.