Women in the Senate: Past and Present

Rebecca Felton (D) Georgia.
First woman to be Appointed a Senate seat. Photo provided by Creative Commons

The first woman to ever hold a senate seat was Rebecca Latimer Felton, a Democrat from Georgia. She was appointed in 1922 after a vacancy occurred, Walter George was elected senator to fill the vacancy, however, he allowed Felton to hold the seat. Felton only served for 24 hours after taking the oath before she resigned her seat back to the senator-elect, Walter George. After Felton, Hattie Caraway, a Democrat from Arkansas, was elected for a senate seat in 1931. Caraway originally became a senator to fill her husband’s vacant spot but was elected to finish out her husband’s term. She served in the position for 14 years. These two women are members of the 46 women who have served as senators, with 20 of still serving.

Mazie Hirono (D) Hawaii
Second Woman of color to hold a senate seat.
Photo provided by Creative Commons

As a result of the Nov. 8 General Election, four more women have been elected to the senate: Kamala Harris, (D) California, Tammy Duckworth, (D) Illinois, Catherine Cortez Masto, (D) Nevada, and Maggie Hassan, (D) New Hampshire. These four women will join five current female senators who are finishing their final terms: Barbara Boxer, (D) California, Barbara Mikulski, (D) Maryland, Kelly Ayotte, (R) New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski, (R) Alaska, and Patty Murray, (D) Washington.

While 100 years ago women were not allowed to serve in the senate, next year the United States will have almost 20 women holding senate seats, bringing the overall total women in the senate to 50.

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