November 7, 2018 – Michele Swers, an American government professor and expert on women in Congress, is the author of The Difference Women Make: The Policy Impact of Women in Congress as well as Women in the Club: Gender and Policy Making in the Senate. Swers is working on a new book examining differences in the policy views and support coalitions of Republican men and women in Congress.
Is 2018 another Year of the Woman?
Yes and no. In 1992, the midterm election became known as the Year of the Woman. But in 1992 and 2018, it’s the Year of the Democratic Woman. Before 1992, there were very few women in Congress, but a relatively equal number of women from each party. The number of women in Congress has been growing on the Democrats’ side since 1992, but it’s been fairly stagnant on the Republican side. Many of the current women who were elected were propelled by the activism of women. College-educated women in suburban districts were particularly energized by their opposition to President Trump, his tone and some of his policies. Women increased their participation in campaigns and more women donated to candidates than in previous midterm election years.
What’s the effect of more women in the House?
A large freshman class with so many new women will bring new energy to the Democratic Caucus and could help Nancy Pelosi secure her grip on the Speakership. With the number of women elected last night, the House Democratic caucus now moves above its current 30 percent. And with Democrats taking control of the House, women also will wield more political power.
Women are also now poised to ascend to some important committee chairmanships, including Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York), who would chair the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), who will likely lead the Financial Services Committee. Women also may wield at least 33 subcommittee gavels.
Are the kinds …