Women in Elected Office in the United States: Comparing 1987 to 2017

We’ve been fans of the Center for American Women and Politics for a long time. One of their most interesting ongoing projects is a website where they share the exact number of women currently serving in elective office. With this website as a resource, we thought it might be interesting to compare the number of women serving in elective office now with the number serving 30 years ago in 1987. In comparing these percentages, we were simultaneously struck by how far we’ve come as a country and how far we still have to go. We’ve assembled our comparisons in the form of a few animated GIFs.



The number of women serving in U.S. Congress has steadily increased over time. From 5% in 1987 to 11% in 1997 to 16.1% in 2007 to 19.6% in 2017.


Interestingly, from 1999-2001, 27.6 % of statewide elective executive offices were held by women so the number has come down slightly since then.


As we examine these numbers we’re reminded of the words of Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN Women. “For me,” said Bachelet, “A better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect but to be elected.”


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