Women in Congress

Since 1917, when Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress, a total of 394 women have served as U.S. Representatives, Delegates, or Senators. This Web site, based on the publication Women in Congress, contains biographical profiles of former women Members of Congress, links to information about current women Members, essays on the institutional and national events that shaped successive generations of Congresswomen, and images of each woman Member, including rare photos.

<i>"Women Must Be Empowered": The U.S. House of Representatives and the Nineteenth Amendment</i> [PDF]

"Women Must Be Empowered": The U.S. House of Representatives and the Nineteenth Amendment [PDF]

House Joint Resolution 1 was one of more than 1,200 pieces of legislation introduced on Opening Day of the 66th Congress (1919–1921), May 19, 1919. Most were mundane; H.J. Res. 1 was anything but. Read the story of how the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment.

Member Profiles

Member Profiles

Read biographical profiles of former women Representatives, Delegates, and Senators that focus on their congressional careers. These profiles also contain suggestions for further reading and references to Members’ manuscript collections.

Women in Congress: An Introduction

Women in Congress: An Introduction

Early in the afternoon on May 21, 1919, Representative James Robert Mann of Illinois called up the first measure of the 66th Congress (1919–1921), House Joint Resolution 1. Widely known as the Susan B. Anthony amendment, H.J. Res. 1 was named for one of America’s foremost women’s rights champions.

"I'm No Lady; I'm a Member of Congress," 1917–1934

"I'm No Lady; I'm a Member of Congress," 1917–1934

The era of women in Congress began on April 2, 1917, when Montana’s Jeannette Rankin was sworn in as a Member of the House of Representatives. In August 1920, three months before the 1920 elections, the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote was added to the Constitution. Millions of women voted for the first time that fall.

Onto the National Stage, 1935–1954

Onto the National Stage, 1935–1954

Thirty-six women entered Congress for the first time between 1935 and 1954, a tumultuous two decades that encompassed the Great Depression, World War II, and the start of the Cold War. Women participated in America’s survival, recovery, and ascent to world power in important and unprecedented ways; they became shapers of the welfare state, workers during wartime, and members of the military.

A Changing of the Guard, 1955–1976

A Changing of the Guard, 1955–1976

The third generation of women in Congress—the 39 individuals who entered the House of Representatives and the Senate between 1955 and 1976—legislated during an era of upheaval in America. Overlapping social and political movements during this period encouraged more and more women to enter politics and provided valuable experience for a new group of feminist reformers.

Assembling, Amplifying, and Ascending, 1977–2020

Assembling, Amplifying, and Ascending, 1977–2020

Early in the afternoon on January 4, 2007, Nancy Pelosi of California walked down the center aisle of the U.S. House of Representatives and climbed the few steps to the top of the rostrum amid a roar of applause. Moments earlier, she had been elected the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House.

Get the ePublication

Women in Congress, 1917–2020, is available as an ePublication from the Government Publishing Office.

Historical Data

In this section, users can find tables and appendices of historical data about women in Congress, including: women in Congress by Congress; committee leaders; party leadership positions; women of color in Congress; and women who have marriage and familial connections in Congress.

Educational Resources

This page features materials designed to help teachers and students use the information presented in Women in Congress in their classrooms. It includes lesson plans as well as activities on photographs, objects, and memorable quotations. An interactive map and a list of online educational resources also are included.

Download or Request our Publications

Complimentary copies of the Office of the Historian publication Women in Congress are available for educators, subject to availability.

Artifacts

View artifacts from the House Collection related to the history of women in Congress, from portraits to political campaign buttons.

Map

Use the interactive map to compile information on the representation of women in Congress, such as the number of women who served from a particular state or region and when they served.

Glossary

What is the difference between apportionment and realignment? What is a discharge petition? What does the word quorum mean and how does it relate to the House of Representatives? These and other relevant congressional terms are defined in this glossary.