Jun 15, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Republicans struggle to elect and retain female members of Congress

Data: Brookings; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Brookings; Chart: Axios Visuals

While the number of women serving in Congress is increasing, there's been a drop in the number of female GOP legislators in recent years while Democrats are seeing greater participation.

Driving the news: Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) announced her retirement from the House on Friday. She and Rep. Jackie Walorski are the first Republican women to represent Indiana in Congress since 1959.

  • Brooks worked heavily to recruit GOP women to run for office, and her resignation worries Republican legislators about 2020 efforts.
  • Her resignation could send a stark message at a time when the Republican party is trying to recruit more women to run for federal and local offices.

The big picture: Democrats took back control of the House in the 2018 midterms, and credit is owed to the women who ran for office.

  • These female legislators, both freshmen and senior, have been bringing topics such as sexual harassment, paid maternity leave and equal pay to the forefront of Congressional debates.
  • Republicans could be alienating more modern voters because of the lack of gender diversity among candidates, and recent attacks on abortion rights.

By the numbers: There's been a steady increase in the number of female GOP senators. The 8 currently in office is an all-time high, per Brookings Institution.

  • Currently, there's 13 GOP representatives. That's the lowest it's been since 1993, when there were 12 Republican women in the House, according to Brookings.
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