White 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.

White women are 39.3% of the total U.S. population and 77.9% 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.

Federal Elective Executive

Current Officeholders
0
Historic Officeholders
0
Current Congress
95
(60D, 35R)

17.8% of all voting members of Congress identify as white women.

65.1% of all women voting members of Congress identify as White.

 

U.S. Senate
21
(13D, 8R)
U.S. House
74
(47D, 27R)
U.S. Delegate
0

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

Historic Congress
304
(175D, 129R)

2.4% of all members of Congress to date have identified as white women.

77.9% of all women who have served in Congress to date have identified as white.

U.S. Senate
53
(31D, 22R)
U.S. House
266
(153D, 113R)
U.S. Delegate
2
(1D, 1R)

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

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • Jeanette Rankin (R-MT) was the first woman and the first white woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1917 to 1919 and again from 1941 to 1942.  
  • Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA) was the first woman and the first white woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. She was also the first Democratic woman and first Democratic white woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. She was appointed to the office, but only served one day in 1922.
  • Hattie Wyatt Caraway (D-AR) was the first woman and the first white woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. She was first appointed in 1931 to fill a vacancy caused by her husband’s death, but she ran for and won a full term in 1932.
  • Gladys Pyle (R-SD) was the first Republican woman and the first Republican white woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. She served from November 1938 to January 1939, winning a special election to fill a short-term vacancy.
  • Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the first woman and first white woman to serve as Speaker of the House. She first served as Speaker from 2007 to 2011. She assumed the speakership again in 2019 and currently holds the position.
Current Statewide Elective Executive
75
(36D, 37R, 2NP)

24.2% of all statewide elective executives identify as white women.

78.1% of all women statewide elective executives identify as white.

Governor
8
(5D, 3R)
Historic Statewide Elective Executive
520
(260D, 250R, 14NP, 1I, 2 Third Party)

89.8% of all women statewide elective executives to date have identified as white.

Above party counts do not equal 520 to account for officeholders that switched parties during their tenure).

 

Governor
42
(26D, 16R)

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • Laura Eisenhuth (D-ND) was the first woman and first white woman to serve in statewide elective executive office, serving as North Dakota’s Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1893 to 1894. 
  • Estelle Reel (R-WY), Angenette J. Peavey (R-CO), and Emma B. Bates (R-ND) were the first Republican women and first Republican white women to serve in statewide elective executive office, each serving as Superintendent of Public Instruction in their respective states starting in 1985.
  • Nellie Tayloe Ross (D-WY) was the first woman and first white woman serve as governor in the United States, serving as Wyoming’s governor from 1925 to 1927. She was elected to replace her deceased husband.
  • Vesta Roy (R-NH) was the first Republican woman and first Republican white woman to serve as governor in the United States, serving as New Hampshire’s governor for just seven days between December 1982 and January 1983 due to the death of the sitting governor and her ascendance from the role of senate president.
  • Kay Orr (R-NE) was the first Republican woman and first Republican white woman to be elected as governor in the United States, serving as Nebraska’s governor from 1987 to 1991.
Current State Legislature
1,678
(934D, 723R, 14NP, 5Ind, 2Prg)

22.7% of all state legislators identify as white women.

73.2% of all women state legislators identify as white.

State Senate
409
(218D, 177R, 14NP)
State House/Assembly
1,269
(716D, 546R, 5Ind, 2Prg)

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • Clara Cressingham (R)Carrie C. Holly (R), and Frances Klock (R), were the first three women and the first three white women to serve in state legislative office, all serving in the Colorado House of Representatives. They each served from 1895 to 1896.
  • Sarah N. Anderson (D), Martha Hughes Cannon (D), and Eurithe K. Labarth (D) were the first three Democratic women and the first three Democratic white women to serve in state legislative office. Both Anderson and Labarth served in the Utah House of Representatives from 1897 to 1898. Cannon served in the Utah State Senate from 1897 to 1901.
  • Vesta Roy (R-NH) was the first woman and the first white woman to lead either house of a state legislature; she served as New Hampshire Senate President from 1982 to 1986.

Mayors – Top 100 Most Populous Cities

Current Mayors
16
(8D, 5R, 3NP)

16% of all mayors in top 100 most populous cities identify as white women.

53.3% of all women mayors in top 100 most populous cities identify as white.

Name Party City, State Years Served
Mattie Parker R Fort Worth, TX 2021-present
Brigette Peterson R Gilbert, AZ 2021-present
Patricia Lock Dawson NP Riverside, CA 2020-present
Kate Gallego D Phoenix, AR 2019-present
Mary-Ann Baldwin D Raleigh, NC 2019-present
Jane Castor D Tampa, FL 2019-present
Linda Gorton R Lexington, KY 2019-present
Leirion Gaylor Baird D Lincoln, NE 2019-present
Satya Rhodes-Conway D Madison, WI 2019-present
Jenny Durkan D Seattle, WA 2017-2021
Debra March D Henderson, NV 2017-present
Libby Schaaf D Oakland, CA 2015-present
Angie M. Carpenter R Islip, NY 2015-present
Hillary L. Schieve NP Reno, NV 2014-present
Jean Stothert R Ohama, NE 2013-present
Nancy Barakat Vaughan D Greensboro, NC 2013-present
Carolyn G. Goodman NP Las Vegas, NV 2011-present