Women in the U.S. Senate 2016

Twenty women (14D, 6R) serve in the United States Senate in the 114th Congress.
 
46

women have ever served in the Senate, including 29 Democrats and 17 Republicans.

29 D
17 R
3
states (LA, ME, NE) have sent three women to the Senate.
  • California was the first state to send two women (Boxer (D) and Feinstein (D)) to the Senate simultaneously.
12
states (AL, AR, KS, MN, MO, NC, ND, NH, NY, SD, WA) have been represented twice by women in the Senate.
  • Since that time, four other states have been represented by two women simultaneously (KS, ME, NH, WA).
13
other states (AK, FL, GA, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, MI, OR, TX, WI, WV) have sent one woman to the Senate each.
  • Currently, three states (CA, NH, WA) are represented by two women in the Senate.
  • 1922
    Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA) became the first woman appointed to the Senate, but only served one day.
  • 1932
    Hattie Wyatt Caraway (D-AR), appointed in 1931 to fill a vacancy caused by her husband's death, ran for a full term and became the first woman elected to the Senate.
  • 1948
    Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) became the first woman elected to the Senate without having first been appointed to serve. Smith had first come to Congress when elected to fill her deceased husband's House seat; she went on to be elected to the Senate in her own right.
  • 1978
    Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-KS) was the first woman to have been elected to the Senate without having previously filled an unexpired Congressional term.
  • 1987
    Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) becomes the first Democratic woman to have been elected to the Senate without having previously filled an unexpired Congressional term.
  • 1992
    Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) became the first woman of color elected to the Senate.
  • 2012
    Mazie Hirono (D-HI), an Asian/Pacific Islander, became the second woman of color to serve in the Senate.
The first woman ever to chair a major Senate committee was Kassebaum, who chaired the Senate's Labor and Human Resources Committee in the 104th Congress. Caraway chaired the Senate Committee on Enrolled Bills during the 73rd-78th Congresses.
How Women First Entered the Senate
27 Regular Elections
14 Appointments
5 Special Elections
Current senators (listed in order of date first entered)
Name Route to Office Dates Served
Barbara Ann Mikulski
(D-MD)
U.S. representative; social worker; Baltimore city council member. Won general election after serving five terms in U.S. House of Representatives. 1/3/87–present
Dianne Feinstein
(D-CA)
San Francisco mayor and San Francisco Board of Supervisors member and president. Ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1990. Won special election to fill vacancy caused by resignation; seat had been filled temporarily by appointee. Won full term in 1994. 11/10/92–present
Barbara Boxer
(D-CA)
U.S. representative, Marin County Board of Supervisors member and president, stock-broker, and journalist. Won open seat in general election after serving five terms in U.S. House of Representatives. 1/5/93–present
Patty Murray
(D-WA)
State senator, citizen lobbyist. Won open seat in general election. 1/5/93–present
Susan Collins
(R-ME)
Businesswoman, regional Small Business Administration Adminis-trator, state cabinet member. Won open seat in general election. 1/7/97–present
Maria Cantwell
(D-WA)
U.S. representative; state representative; technology executive. Defeated incumbent in general election. 1/3/01–present
Debbie Stabenow
(D-MI)
U.S. representative; state senator; state representative; first woman chair of Ingham County Board of Commissioners; social worker. Defeated incumbent to win general election in 2000. 1/3/01–present
Lisa Murkowski
(R-AK)
State house majority leader; state representative; state Republican committeewoman; community activist; attorney. Appointed by her father to fill vacancy created when he resigned to become governor. 12/20/02–present
Amy Klobuchar
(D-MN)
Hennepin County attorney; president of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association; prosecutor; attorney. Won open seat in general election. 1/4/07–present
Claire McCaskill
(D-MO)
State auditor; county prosecutor; state representative; law clerk, state Court of Appeals. Defeated incumbent in general election. 1/4/07–present
Jeanne Shaheen
(D-NH)
Governor; state senator; director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics; high school teacher. Defeated incumbent in general election. 1/6/09-present
Kirsten E. Gillibrand
(D-NY)
U.S. representative; special counsel to the secretary of housing and urban development; law clerk; attorney. Appointed to fill a vacancy. 1/27/09-present
Kelly Ayotte
(R-NH)
New Hampshire state attorney general; deputy attorney general; attorney. Won open seat in general election. 1/4/11-present
Mazie Hirono
(D-HI)
U.S. representative; lieutenant governor; state representative; state deputy attorney. Won open seat in general election. 1/3/13-present
Elizabeth Warren
(D-MA)
Assistant to the secretary of the treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Board; law professor. Defeated incumbent in general election. 1/3/13-present
Deb Fischer
(R-NE)
State senator; school board member; rancher. Won open seat in general election.  1/3/13–present
Heidi Heitkamp
(D-ND)
State attorney general; director, Gasification Synfuels Plant. Won open seat in general election. 1/3/13-present
Tammy Baldwin
(D-WI)
U.S. representative; state representativec; county board of supervisors. Won open seat in general election. 1/3/13-present
Shelley Moore Capito
(R-WV)
U.S. representative; state delegate. Won an open seat in general election.  1/6/15-present
Joni Ernst
(R-IA)
State senator; county auditor; lieutenant colonel in Iowa army national guard; first woman to represent Iowa in U.S. Congress. Won an open seat in general election.   1/6/15-present
Former Senators (listed in order of date first entered)
Name Routes to Office Dates Served
Rebecca Latimer Felton
(D-GA)
Educator, writer, lecturer, and reformer. Appointed to fill vacancy caused by death. Resigned when successor was elected. 11/21/22–11/22/22
Hattie Wyatt Caraway
(D-AR)
Appointed to fill vacancy caused by death of her husband; later elected to complete his term and subsequently to two full terms before losing bid for re-election. Chairwoman, committee on Enrolled Bills (73rd-78th Congresses). 12/8/31–1/2/45
Rose McConnell Long
(D-LA)
Appointed and subsequently elected to fill vacancy caused by death of husband. 2/10/36–1/2/37
Dixie Bibb Graves
(D-AL)
Civic leader and activist. Appointed by husband (who was governor) to fill vacancy caused by resignation. Resigned when a successor was appointed. 8/20/37–1/10/38
Gladys Pyle
(R-SD)
State legislator and secretary of state; ran for governor in 1930. Elected to fill vacancy caused by death. Never sworn in because Congress was not in session. 11/9/38–1/3/39
Vera Cahalan Bushfield
(R-SD)
Appointed to fill vacancy caused by death of her husband, but did not take seat because Congress was not in session; resigned when successor was elected. 10/6/48–12/27/48
Margaret Chase Smith
(R-ME)
Businesswoman and congressional aide. Elected to House of Representatives to fill vacancy caused by death of husband; served 4 full House terms, then elected to 4 full terms in Senate; lost bid for re-election. 1/3/49–1/3/73
Eva Kelly Bowring
(R-NE)
Rancher and party activist. Appointed to fill vacancy caused by death of Dwight Griswold; served until Hazel Hempel Abel was elected to complete term. 4/26/54–11/7/54
Hazel Hempel Abel
(R-NE)
Educator, businesswoman, and party activist. Elected to fill vacancy caused by death of Dwight Griswold; resigned when successor was elected. 11/8/54–12/31/54
Maurine Brown Neuberger
(D-OR)
Educator, state legislator, writer, and lecturer. Elected to fill vacancy caused by death of husband; simultaneously elected for ensuing full term. 11/8/60–1/3/67
Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards
(D-LA)
Appointed by husband (who was governor) to fill vacancy caused by death; resigned when successor was appointed. 8/7/72–11/13/72
Muriel Buck Humphrey
(D-MN)
Appointed to fill vacancy caused by death of her husband; resigned when successor was elected. 2/6/78–11/7/78
Maryon Pittman Allen
(D-AL)
Journalist, educator, writer, and lecturer. Appointed to fill vacancy caused by death of her husband; lost bid for re-nomination and resigned when her successor was elected. 6/12/78–11/7/78
Nancy Landon Kassebaum
(R-KS)
Maize School Board member, congressional aide, and radio station executive. Won general election, then appointed to fill vacancy caused by resignation of predecessor; won two sub-sequent terms in 1984 and 1990. Chaired Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources in 104th Congress. Retired. 12/23/78–1/7/97
Paula Hawkins
(R-FL)
Businesswoman and public service commissioner. Won general election, then appointed to fill vacancy caused by resignation of predecessor; lost bid for re-election. 1/1/81–1/3/87
Jocelyn Birch Burdick
(D-ND)
Civic activist. Appointed to fill vacancy caused by death of her husband. Resigned when successor was chosen in special election. 9/16/92–12/14/92
Carol Moseley Braun
(D-IL)
Attorney, Cook County Recorder of Deeds, and state repre-sentative. Defeated incumbent in primary and went on to win open seat in general election. 1/5/93–1/6/99
Kay Bailey Hutchison
(R-TX)
State treasurer, businesswoman, state representative, TV news-caster, attorney. Won special election to fill vacancy caused by resignation; seat had been filled temporarily by appointee. Won full term in 1994. 6/14/93–1/3/13
Olympia Snowe
(R-ME)
U.S. representative, state senator and state representative, member of Auburn Board of Voter Registration. Won open seat in general election after serving eight terms in U.S. House. 1/4/95–1/3/13
Sheila Frahm
(R-KS)
Lieutenant governor and secretary of administration, state senator and senate majority leader, State Board of Education member and vice chair, Colby School Board member, farmer. Appointed to fill vacancy caused by resignation of predecessor, lost primary bid. 6/11/96–11/8/96
Mary Landrieu
(D-LA)
State treasurer, state representative, unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1995. Won open seat in general election. 1/7/97–1/5/15
Blanche Lincoln
(D-AR)
U.S. representative; congressional staff member; legislative affairs specialist. Won open seat in general election. 1/6/99 -1/4/11
Jean Carnahan
(D-MO)
Children's advocate; author. Appointed to a two-year term to fill her husband's seat after he was elected posthumously. 1/3/01–11/23/02
Hillary Rodham Clinton
(D-NY)
Only First Lady elected to public office; first woman from New York elected to the U.S. Senate; attorney; author; children's advocate. Won open seat in general election. 1/3/01–1/16/09
Elizabeth Dole 
(R-NC)
Presidential candidate; presidential cabinet member and staff member; federal trade commissioner; president of the American Red Cross; national director of education and information for Hospice. Won open seat in general election. 1/7/03–1/6/09
Kay Hagan
(D-NC)
State senator; attorney; community activist; vice president of North Carolina's largest bank. 1/6/09-1/5/15

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