The United States in Focus

Women Who Run

In 1776, no woman was invited to sign the United States' Declaration of Independence, but the wife of one man who did sent him a warning to "remember the ladies." Future First Lady Abigail Adams wrote her husband John: "If particular care is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." U.S. women have been fighting for that voice and representation ever since.


Hisham Ibrahim

Anti-war protesters near Washington monument

View Larger >

Home to more than 300 million people, the United States has yet to elect a woman head of state, in spite of being considered by many to be one of the world's most advanced and thriving democracies. This stands in contrast to Argentina, Germany, Israel, India, and the United Kingdom -- a few of the more than fifty other democratic nations already led by a woman.

At the federal level, the proportion of U.S. women in elected office has slowly increased but still hovers below 20 percent, half that of the Netherlands, Cuba and Angola. Recent research has shown that women give more money to male candidates than to female candidates. Campaign finance structures and the cost of advertising ensure that it is exorbitantly, if not prohibitively, expensive for women to run for office at the highest levels.

Nevertheless, increasing numbers of women are being identified, recruited, trained and supported as future candidates and appointees. As of 2009, a woman, Nancy Pelosi, heads the lower legislative body as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Three of the last four secretaries of state, the most prestigious foreign policy position in the U.S. government, have been women.

In 2008, for the first time in its 232-year history, the U.S. had a viable female candidate for President, Senator Hillary Clinton. Record numbers of women ran for office at state and local levels and participated as voters, campaigners, and community organizers. Although there is still a ways to go, it's unquestionable that "the ladies" will indeed be remembered.


(2) | Add your Comment


Curator , أمينة المعرض , curateur , curadora


I am interested in women rights in America. It is really impressful how women got women rights, particularly women vote, in America.

Deleted User

I was surprised that the percentage of women in the U.S. govt was so low. Why is that? Then I looked at the percentage of other minorities such as African-Americans and Hispanics in govt and the result was that women ranked higher than Blacks and about the same as Hispanics.

The 107th Congress has 62 women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and 13 in the U.S. Senate. The House has a total of 435 members, four delegates, and one resident commissioner. Currently, two Congressional Districts are vacant, bringing the total number of members down to 433. That leaves 376 men serving in the House. The Senate's a bit simpler -- with exactly 100 senators, 87 men serve in the Senate.

There are women presidents in Ireland, Finland, The Philippines, Chile, India, Argentina, the Federation of Bosnia...not to mention Prime Ministers and Governor-Generals in St. Lucia, Mozambique, Canada, Netherlands, Antigua and Barbuda, Ukraine, Åland (Finish External Territory), Australia, Moldova, Haiti, San Marino, Iceland, Bangladesh, not to mention 3 queens by birth in England, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Why it's still a minority in the U.S. is a mystery to me. It's still very much a patriarchy-ruled society.

Log In

RSS Story Feed

Take Action

Go Vote. Go Run. <br>Go Lead. Go Girl!

Go Vote. Go Run.
Go Lead. Go Girl!

Inspired to run, know you have the wits and the skills, but afraid you might not have the know-how? Then sign up for the White House Project's Vote, Run, Lead training program and learn the nuts and bolts of running for political office by focusing on areas like communications, fundraising, and campaigning.