Knowledge Center

Women in Government


Women in Canadian Government: Not Yet at Parity


Just over one-quarter (27%) of all members of House of Commons are women (91).1


Just over one-third (36.8%) of all Senate seats are held by women (43).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

115th United States Congress: Women Are Still a Minority
  • In the House of Representatives, women hold just 83 (19.1%) of the 435 seats.4
  • In the Senate, women hold just 22 (22%) of the 100 seats.5


In 2007, Nancy Pelosi was the first woman elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives.6


In 2016, Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first woman nominated by a major party for the Presidency of the United States.7

Few Women Have Ever Held a US Cabinet Position


Fifty-two women have held a total of 59 cabinet or cabinet-level appointments in the history of the United States.8

  • Five women currently serve in cabinet or cabinet-level posts.9
Women of Color Are Even Further Behind


Just 7.1% of the total members of Congress are women of color.10

  • Of the 106 women members of Congress, 35.8% (38) are women of color.11

US Governors and Executive Officers: Women Remain the Minority


There are only six US governors that are women in 2018.12

  • Only one woman of color currently serves as governor.13

Women hold just 22.8% of statewide elective executive offices around the country.14

Women's Share of US State Positions Is Growing, but Men Still Occupy the Majority 


25.4% of US state legislators are women.15

  • Women hold 447 (22.7%) of state senate seats and 1,428 (26.4%) of state house seats.16

  • There are five times as many women serving in state legislatures now than in 1971.17

Women Are Winning Mayoral Elections More Often


As of March 2018, 21.6% of all US cities with more than 30,000 residents have a woman as a mayor.18


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

  • Rwanda = 1
  • Bolivia = 2
  • Australia = 49
  • Canada  = 59
  • United States  =  100
  • The rest of the top ten include Cuba, Nicaragua, Sweden, Mexico, South Africa, Finland, Senegal and Norway.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
Current Women Heads of Government

The following countries have democratically elected women to lead their countries:


Head of Government Title Country
Bidhya Devi Bhandari22 President Nepal
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca23 President Malta
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic24 President Croatia
Dalia Grybauskaite25 President Lithuania
Sheikh Hasina26 Prime Minister Bangladesh
Hilda Heine27 President Marshall Islands
Tsai Ing-wen28 President Taiwan
Theresa May29 Prime Minister United Kingdom
Angela Merkel30 Chancellor Germany
Erna Solberg31 Prime Minister Norway


Additional Resources


Catalyst, "Government Affairs."

International IDEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union, and Stockholm University, "Gender Quotas Around the World," Gender Quotas Database.

Pew Research Center, Women in Leadership: Public Says Women Are Equally Qualified, but Barriers Persist (2015).

University of Albany, Rockefeller College, Center for Women in Government in Civil Society, “CWGCS Research.”


How to cite this product: Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Government (April 24, 2018).