Knowledge Center

Women in Government


Women in Canadian Government: Not Yet at Parity

Just over one-quarter of all members of House of Commons are women (88).1

More than one-third of all Senators are women (31).2

For the first time in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet is gender-balanced, with 15 men and 15 women.3 

United States

114th United States Congress: Women Are Still a Minority 
  • In the House of Representatives, women hold just 84 (19.3%) of the 435 seats.4

In 2007, Nancy Pelosi was the first woman elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives.5

Women of Color Are Even Further Behind 


  • Just 6.2% of the total members of Congress are women of color.6

  • Of the 104 women members of Congress, 31.7% (33) are women of color.7


Few Women Have Ever Held a US Cabinet Position8


Forty-eight women have held a total of 54 cabinet or cabinet-level appointments in the history of the United States.9

Seven women currently serve in cabinet or cabinet-level posts.10


US Governors: Women Remain the Minority

There are only six current US governors that are women.11

  • Only two women of color currently serve as governors.12

Women's Share of US State Positions Is Growing, but Men Still Occupy the Majority 
  • 24.6% of US state legislators are women.13

  • Women hold 443 (22.5%) of state senate seats and 1,371 (25.3%) of state house seats.14

  • The number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled since 1971.15

  • In 2015, women held just 24.7% of statewide elective executive offices around the country.16


Increasingly Women Are Winning Mayoral Elections

18.4% of all US cities with more than 30,000 residents have a woman as a mayor.17

  • Women candidates won just 2% of  mayoral elections in 1970, while today they win over 15% of mayoral elections18



Select countries ranked by women's representation in national legislatures or parliaments:19

  • Rwanda = 1
  • Bolivia = 2
  • Australia = 45
  • Canada  = 48
  • United States  =  72
  • The rest of the Top Ten include Cuba, Seychelles, Sweden, Senegal, Mexico, South Africa, Ecuador, and Finland.20
(Note that while women represent more than 50% of the lower house in both Rwanda and Bolivia, women represent less than 50% in the upper house of each country).21
Women Heads of Government

The following countries have democratically elected women to lead their countries22:
Head of Government Title Country
Michelle Bachelet President Chile
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca President Malta
Park Geun-Hye President South Korea
Ameenah Gurib President Mauritius
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic  President Croatia
Dalia Grybauskaite President Lithuania
Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister Bangladesh
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf President Liberia
Ewa Kupacz Prime Minister Poland
Angela Merkel Chancellor Germany
Kamla Persad-Bissessar Prime Minister Trinidad and Tobago
Dilma Rousseff President Brazil
Catherine Samba-Panza President Central African Republic
Portia Simpson-Miller Prime Minister Jamaica
Erna Solberg Prime Minister Norway
Laimdota Straujuma Prime Minister Latvia



Additional Resources

Center for Women in Government in Civil Society

The Quota Project

Women in Leadership: Public Says Women Are Equally Qualified, but Barriers Persist

Women in Parliaments


How to cite this product: Catalyst. Catalyst Quick Take: Women in Government. New York: Catalyst, 2016.