You might be seeing a lot of reporting about the huge successes of women candidates in this year's election. Year of the Woman, etc.
If you read me regularly you know what I'm gonna jump in with, right?
There are two stories here. One is that the Democratic Party is, slowly but steadily, making gains toward gender parity in elected office. Not only are the total numbers of Democratic women advancing, but the percentage of newly-elected officials who are women (what I call the 'replacement rate') has been increasing over the past several election cycles, after being stagnant for quite a while.
The other story is that the Republican Party is moving in the opposite direction -- moving toward even less gender parity, and effectively cementing itself as a party of male-only representation and leadership for years to come.
I think the second story is more interesting.
I mean, sure, it's interesting that a hard, prolonged, concerted effort has gotten the Democrats to the point where, a mere 92 years after women received suffrage, a third (15 of 45, with a couple left to be determined) of the party's newly-elected members of the US House of Representatives are women. And I do believe that getting 16 Democrats in the Senate -- 10 of whom are just entering new six-year terms -- may well be an important tipping point.
But come on, the slow markers of inevitable female achievement are nice, but they're a little dog-bites-man.
Over in the GOP, as I've been writing obsessively for some years now, we have a massive, major, influential societal institution whose leadership not only remains 90 percent male but is actually moving toward ever-greater gender disparity.
Going into this election, Republicans had 24 women in the US House, out of 242 members; and 5 in the US Senate, out of 47.
They will enter the next session with 21 women out of ~235 (20 if McSally ends up losing AZ-2); and 4 in the US Senate, out of 45.
Republicans nominated no women for the 11 gubernatorial races held this week. To the best of my knowledge Kelly Schmidt of North Dakota, who was re-elected as state treasurer, was the only Republican woman in the country to win a major statewide executive office Tuesday.
And I would add that, with the party failing to win back the White House, we have several more years in which there will be no examples of Republican women to be seen in significant administration positions, or on the Supreme Court.
Ask a reasonably informed American to name three Republican women in elected or appointed positions in Washington. Odds are they won't make it to two.
Or, even more telling, ask a reasonably informed American to name women in elected or appointed positions in Washington, and see how many they name before they mention a Republican.
There's already a lot being said and written about how the GOP needs to change to be competitive. Little if any of that conversation mentions this incredible and growing gender disparity, but it should.