The equal participation of women in politics and government is integral to building strong communities and a vibrant democracy in which women and men can thrive. By voting, running for office, and engaging in civil society as leaders and activists, women shape laws, policies, and decision-making in ways that reflect their interests and needs, as well as those of their families and communities.
Today, women constitute a powerful force in the electorate and inform policymaking at all levels of government. Yet, women continue to be underrepresented in governments across the nation and face barriers that often make it difficult for them to exercise political power and assume leadership positions in the public sphere. This chapter presents data on several aspects of women’s involvement in the political process in the United States: voter registration and turnout, female state and federal elected and appointed representation, and state-based institutional resources for women. It examines how women fare on these indicators of women’s status, the progress women have made and where it has stalled, and how racial and ethnic disparities compound gender disparities in specific forms of political participation.