On Saturday, November 7th, Kamala Harris became our nation’s first vice president-elect — a woman, woman of color, and the daughter of immigrants — after her running mate, President-elect Joe Biden, was declared the winner of the U.S. presidential election.
Her election is one of many historic firsts in diversity and representation in election 2020.
At YWCA, we firmly believe in breaking down institutional barriers, influencing change, and empowering all women and people of color. This year, it was obvious that voters shared the same beliefs. From the first elected transgender state senator to the first two openly gay Black men elected to Congress, this election season boasted several records and historic firsts.
Here are all the history making moments so far.
Three hundred and sixteen women sought congressional or gubernatorial seats during the 2020 election and as of Wednesday, November 11, 131 had won their seats, including 114 women in the House and 7 women in the Senate. Among these races were 45 women of color who were elected to the House.
We anticipate that the 117th Congress will boast at least 138 women: 24 senators and 114 representatives, 48 of whom will be women of color.
- Women will be at least 25.5% of all members of the U.S. House. Women are currently 23.2% of House members in 2020.
- Women will at least be 24% of all members of the Senate. Women are currently 26% of all members of the Senate.
With 12 races involving female candidates still too close to call – 11 in the House and one in the Senate – the 117th Congress has already surpassed records for women’s congressional representation in:
- Women serving in Congress overall
- Women serving in the House
- Black women serving in the House
The 117th Congress is poised to surpass the record for women of color serving in Congress overall.
The 2020 election also saw a host of other records and historic firsts, including:
- New Mexico became the first state to elect all women of color as its House delegation
- A record number of LGBTQ individuals—at least 11—will serve in Congress
- First Republican woman to represent Minnesota in the U.S. House since 2015: Michelle Fischbach from the 7th District
- First woman of color and first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress from Missouri: Cori Bush from the 1st District
- First Latina to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from New Mexico: Teresa Leger Fernandez from the 3rd District
- First woman to serve in the U.S. Senate from Wyoming: Cynthia Lummis
- First Republican woman to serve in the U.S. Congress from South Carolina. First woman to represent South Carolina in Congress since 1993: Nancy Mace in the 1st District
- First Republican woman to serve in the U.S. House from Iowa: Ashley Hinson from the 1st District
- First LGBTQ Black member of Congress: Mondaire Jones in New York, 17th District
- First Republican woman to represent Oklahoma in the U.S. Congress since 2011, and the first Iranian American to serve in Congress: Stephanie Bice in 5th District
- First openly LGBTQ person elected the U.S. House from Minnesota: Angie Craig in 2 District
- First transgender state senator: Sarah McBride, serving in Delaware
- First Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from Washington: Marilyn Strickland in 10th District. Strickland identifies as Black and Korean American
- First LGBTQ Afro-Latinx Member of Congress: Ritchie Torres, serving in New York, 1st District
- First Indigenous transgender legislator elected to a state legislature: Stephanie Byers, serving in the Kansas House
- First Republican Native American woman in Congress: Yvette Herrell, serving in New Mexico, 2nd District
- First nonbinary legislator in the U.S. and Oklahoma’s first Muslim lawmaker: Mauree Turner, serving in the Oklahoma House
- First openly LGBTQ person elected to Congress from New Hampshire: Chris Pappas in 1st District
- Youngest member of Congress, at age 25: Madison Crawthorn, serving in North Carolina, 11th District
This election season came at a historic time, with two milestone voting rights anniversaries. 2020 marked the centennial of the 19th Amendment – which granted some women the right to vote – and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – which extended voting rights to people of color. At such a critical moment in our nation’s history, this is the year that Americans came together and made history – and “herstory” – by electing our nation’s most diverse body of leaders. This is our moment. Our moment to root out injustice. Our moment to transform institutions. And our moment to create a world that sees women, girls, and people of color the way we do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.