Role of Women in Politics and Government

[Khaetlyn Grindell, candidate for an M.A. in Political Communications at American University School of Public Affairs, assisted with the research for the following section of the WW.]

Two Republican women and five Democratic women lead various party committees.

Republican National Committee – Ronna Romney McDaniel
Republican Legislative Campaign Committee – Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer

Democratic Senate Campaign Committee – Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV)
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL)
Congressional Black Caucus – Rep. Karen Bass (CA)
Democratic Governors Committee – Governor Gina Raimond (RI)
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee – Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek

The U.S. Senate

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (WA) chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Republican Sen. Susan Collins (ME) chairs the Special Committee on Aging

Democratic women are the ranking members of five full and one special committee:

  • Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) – Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
  • Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA)– Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • Democratic Se. Patty Murray (WA)– Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA) – Judiciary
  • Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) – Rules and Administration
  • Democratic Sen Diane Feinstein (CA)– Special Committee on Int’l Narcotics Control

Republican women will now sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first time – Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

U.S. House/116th Congress

Speaker of the House – Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA)

Five Woman Chair Committees:

  • Rep. Eddie Bernice (TX) – Science, Space, and Technology
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA) – House Administration
  • Rep. Nita M. Lowey (NY) – Appropriations
    • The first woman chair of Appropriations
    • 17 women out of 53 members
  • Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY) – Small Business
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) – Financial Services
    • 11 women of 60 members

Other Committees:

  • House Energy and Commerce Committee – 13 out of 55 members
  • Oversight & Government Reform Committee – 13 out of 42 members
  • House Ways and Means Committee – 7 out of 41 members

Seven women, the most ever, oversee operations at more than a third of the standing House Committees in the 116th Congress.

Of the 15 members of President Trump’s cabinet, three of the cabinet seats are filled by women:

Betsy DeVos – Education
Kirstjen Nielsen – Homeland Security
Elaine Chao –Transportation


Nine women were elected governor in 2018 matching the record for the highest number of women to serve as governor, first achieved in 2004 and then again in 2007. [CAWP]

Democrat Janet Mills was sworn in as Maine’s 75th governor. She is the first women to hold that position.

Republican Kristi Noem is the first women to be elected governor of the state of South Dakota.

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham is the first Democratic Latina governor of New Mexico.

State Legislatures

Nevada has become the first state in history with a majority female legislature. Beginning in February, women will hold 50.8% of the state’s 63 legislative seats.

Democrat Stewart-Cousins is the first woman and the first African- American women to lead a New York legislative Chamber when she becomes the leader of the New York Senate.

The Colorado House of Representatives is one of only two legislative chambers in which female legislators hold a majority. Women outnumber men by 34 to 31.


CIA Director Gina Haspel, has appointed women to the top level of the agency. As a result, the top three directorates of the agency: operations, analysis, and science and technology are all headed by women.

The Equal Rights Amendment

This piece is authored by Jay Berman, who served as Legislative Director for Senator Birch Bayh, Author of the ERA and is a friend of Mike Berman, 1/31/19

“The Equal Rights Amendment Is Back.” That is a headline that has appeared quite often since Illinois ratified the ERA last May—46 years after Congress first sent the Amendment to the states for ratification. That makes 37 states, “technically” one short of the required three-fourths necessary to pass a constitutional amendment.

I use the word “technically” advisedly, as this raises a number of constitutional issues assuming one more state ratifies. As supporters worked feverishly in Virginia, Florida and Georgia to name a few, the constitutional question of whether or not the ERA will have been duly ratified as to time limits will be hotly debated on both constitutional and political grounds.

The proposed amendment that passed Congress carried a seven-year term for ratification—an increasingly common provision in proposed amendments. The version Congress sent to the states in 1972, however, was put in the preamble and not in the body of the Amendment. Technically—yes, that word again—the states ratified the text of the amendment. So, are there 37 legitimate ratifications, awaiting only one more?

In addition, there is a further complication by virtue of the fact that in 1978 Congress exercised its Article Five constitutional powers to extend the time period through 1982. Should Congress step in once again and extend the date, so there will be more to contemplate and debate?

Another issue that will need to be addressed is the fact that over the course of time, five states rescinded their original ratifications. There is no constitutional provision regarding rescissions. So, are we at 37 or 32 ratifications?

In recent polls, some of which have appeared in previous issues of Mike’s newsletters, we have learned that about 80 percent of the American people support an Equal Rights Amendment. Ironically, other polling has shown that about that same number believe there is already an ERA in the Constitution.

Supporters of ERA, myself among them, have a lot of strategizing to do to sort all of this out. The first order of business, though, is getting one more state ratification. That is a job for all of us. Then, let the debate begin. Yes, ERA is back.