Gender Gap in GOP Is Striking, Problematic

Women compose 10% of GOP House, Senate; Dems are 23% female
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2009 12:15 PM CDT
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, center, is accompanied by members of the Texas Congressional delegation.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Women may make up the majority of America, but they comprise just 10% of the GOP House and Senate—compared to about 23% for Dems—and that gender gap "could make the Republicans’ climb back to power even steeper," writes Erika Lovely in Politico. It's not that the four Republican women in the Senate and 17 in the House haven't been welcomed, says political professor Laurel Elder. The party just isn't courting others to join them.

In the 2006 party primaries, 70% of the female candidates were Democrats, she notes. “Republican women are more reluctant to throw their hat in the ring because they don’t see a lot of women like themselves in leadership or on the news. If the GOP wants more women, they need to urge them to run,” says Elder. "If we are going to expand the playing field we must expand the party,” maintains the party's congressional committee chair, who says it continues to look for "highly qualified female candidates who can effectively convey the Republican message."