Asian American/Pacific Islander Women in Elective Office

For more information on CAWP’s historic and current collection of race/ethnicity data, please see our methodological statement. For more information on historical milestones in women’s political representation, please see CAWP’s “Milestones for Women in American Politics.”

Women who self-identify as more than one race/ethnicity are included on CAWP pages for each group with which they identify. We strongly caution against adding totals from each racial/ethnic group should, as it will double count officeholders. To conduct more detailed calculations, users should refer to CAWP’s Women Elected Officials Database or contact CAWP staff directly.

Asian American women are 3.6% of the total U.S. population and 7.1% of the U.S. population of women, according to the U.S. Census. Using these data to compare to percentages reported on this page should account for differences between U.S. Census and CAWP categorizations, with CAWP categorizations including Pacific Islanders in these counts and calculations.

Federal Elective Executive

Current Officeholders
1
(1D)

Kamala Harris (D) became the first woman to hold the office of Vice President on January 20, 2021. She is also the first Black person and the first South Asian person elected to this office.

Historic Officeholders
1
(1D)

Kamala Harris (D) is the only woman, and more specifically the only Black and South Asian woman, who has held federal elective executive office. She has served as Vice President from January 20, 2021 to present.

Current Congress
10
(8D, 2R)

1.9% of all voting members of Congress identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander women.

6.9% of all women voting members of Congress identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander.

 

U.S. Senate
2
(2D)
U.S. House
8
(6D, 2R)
U.S. Delegate
1
(1R)

U.S. Delegates are non-voting members and are not included in our total counts.

Historic Congress
15
(12D, 3R)

0.1% of all members of Congress to date have identified as Asian American/Pacific Islander women.

3.9% of all women who have served in Congress to date have identified as Asian American/Pacific Islander.

Two officeholders have served as both U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives.

U.S. Senate
3
(3D)
U.S. House
14
(11D, 3R)
U.S. Delegate
1
(1R)

U.S. Delegates are non-voting members and are not included in our total counts.

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • Patsy Takemoto Mink (D-HI) was the first Asian American/Pacific Islander woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1977 and again from 1990 to 2002. 
  • Patricia Fukuda Saiki (R-HI) was the first Republican Asian American/Pacific Islander woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1991.
  • Mazie Hirono (D-HI) was the first Asian American/Pacific Islander woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, serving from 2013 to present. She previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013.
Current Statewide Elective Executive
3
(2D, 1R)

1.0% of all statewide elective executives identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander women.

3.2% of all women statewide elective executives identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander.

Governor
0

There are currently no Asian American/Pacific Islander women serving as governor.

Historic Statewide Elective Executive
10
(7D, 3R)

1.7% of all women statewide elective executives to date have identified as Asian American/Pacific Islander.

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • March Fong Eu (D-CA) was the first Asian American/Pacific Islander woman to serve in statewide elective executive office, serving as California’s Secretary of State from 1975 to May 1994. 
  • Cheryl Lau (R-HI) was the first Republican Asian American/Pacific Islander woman to serve in statewide elective executive office, serving as Nevada’s Secretary of State from 1991 to 1995.
  • Nikki Haley (R-SC) was the first Asian American/Pacific Islander woman to serve as a U.S. governor, serving as South Carolina’s governor from 2011 to 2017.
Current State Legislature
75
(68D, 6R, 1NP)

1.0% of all state legislators identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander women.

3.2% of all women state legislators identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander.

State Senate
21
(19D, 1R, 1NP)
State House/Assembly
54
(49D, 5R)

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • Patsy Takemoto Mink (D-HI) was the first Asian American/Pacific Islander woman to serve in state legislative office, serving in Hawaii’s state senate from 1963 to 1964.
  • Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) was the first Asian American/Pacific Islander woman to lead either house of a state legislature; she served as Hawaii's Senate president from 2007 to 2011.

Mayors – Top 100 Most Populous Cities

Current Mayors
4
(3D, 1R)

4% of all mayors in top 100 most populous cities identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander women.

12.9% of all women mayors in top 100 most populous cities identify as Asian American/Pacific Islander.

Historic Mayors
6
(4D, 2R)
Name Party City, State Years Served
Michelle Wu* D Boston, MA 2021-present
Farah Khan* D Irvine, CA 2020-present
Karen K. Goh* R Bakersfield, CA 2017-present
Lily Mei* D Fremont, CA 2016-present
Jean Quan* D Oakland, CA 2011-2015
Eunice Sato* R Long Beach, CA 1980-1982

*Elected in nonpartisan races.