By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 02, 2020


November 2, 2020 

Contact: Cynthia Richie Terrell, ([email protected]

The majority of U.S. States (60%) received a “D” grade for women’s representation in elected office.

Takoma Park, MD. –  Even with a record number of women running for office again this year, the latest Gender Parity Index from RepresentWomen finds the United States has failed to close the political gender gap at every level of office. 

New 2020 Gender Parity Index report shows progress toward parity in the United States remains uneven across geography, race, party, and age. 

The Gender Parity Index (GPI) is part of an annual study of the underrepresentation of women in elected office. Each year, the GPI rates women's recent electoral success at the local, state, and national levels on a weighted scale of 0 (no women in major elected offices) to 100 (women hold all such offices), with the target goal of 50, additional information on GPI methodology can be found here. The complete 2020 rankings of all 50 states can be found here and state-specific pages can be found here.

Key Takeaways from the 2020 Gender Parity Index report:

  • Three states received a failing grade:  Utah, Montana, and Louisiana.
  • 60% of states received a “D” grade, 14% received a “C,” and 18% received a “B.” 
  • New Hampshire moved back up to an “A,” and remains the only state to achieve this.
  • Women’s representation varies drastically by region: the West Coast excels, thus tipping the scales, while the South and Midwest continue to lag behind. What’s more, the gap between the West Coast and other regions has only grown with each election cycle. 
  • Without systems-based approaches, such as recruitment targets for PACs and party leaders, or fair representation voting — the United States will not reach gender parity. 

This year’s Congressional elections feature 327 women on the ballot across the country; but, four states have no women on the ballot for election to the U.S. House or U.S. Senate:  Hawaii, North Dakota, Rhode Island and North Dakota. The 2020 general election also features a record number of women of color candidates with Senator Kamala Harris the first woman of color on a major party presidential ticket, and 117 women of color running for the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite these historic records and hope for victories, the U.S. will likely continue to make limited progress towards parity without systems-based reform. 

As a whole the United States ranks 87th in global rankings for legislative gender parity with women making up 51% of the population but only 23% of the House of Representatives. The key difference between the United States and other countries, is that other countries have successfully leveraged systems strategies — including recruitment targets and fair representation voting rules — to advance women’s leadership at a faster rate. 

On the eve of the 2020 Congressional elections, we are likely going to see another record breaking year for the number of women elected; but, even our “record” numbers continue to lag behind the rest of the world and our democratic allies. RepresentWomen’s founder and director, Cynthia Richie Terrell comments “to reach and sustain gender parity in our lifetimes we must pivot toward systems reforms including recruitment targets, fair representation voting systems and modernized workplace rules.” Richie Terrell adds “luckily, changing rules and systems in the fight for equality is part of the American tradition from the 19th Amendment to the American with Disabilities act, we have a precedent of systemic and structural solutions to ingrained inequality.” 

RepresentWomen, founded in 2013,  is a research-based advocacy group that promotes the use of data-driven strategies to identify and eliminate the structural barriers women face in seeking elected office and advance women’s representation and leadership in the United States. With our research on women’s political representation we aim to fill knowledge gaps in the gender equality and electoral reform sectors. With our research we work in concert with our allies to address political barriers women face in politics, so we can ensure that more women can RUN, WIN, SERVE & LEAD

Visit www.representwomen.org for more information.