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New York Times' Collins Weighs Significance of Number of Women in Congress

New York Times' Collins Weighs Significance of Number of Women in Congress

December 10, 2012 — Although the fact that there will be 20 women in the Senate next year is a milestone, it means that just one-fifth of the chamber will be women, New York Times columnist Gail Collins writes, adding, "Whoop-di-do."

She also points out that 78 women were elected to the House -- accounting for fewer than 20% of that chamber's members -- meaning that "when it comes to the proportion of women in the lower chamber of its national legislature, next year the United States is almost certainly going to soar past the United Arab Emirates and possibly even Indonesia."

The significance of the number of women in Congress is "mainly about interpersonal relations more than any particular issue," Collins continues. Although in the past "women [in Congress] banded together in bipartisan battles on behalf of their sex," nowadays, this happens "[b]arely at all," according to Collins.

"One of the reasons is the dwindling band of moderate, pro-choice Republican women," she writes, adding, "[A] female lawmaker who opposes giving poor women access to family planning services is not really playing for the team" (Collins, New York Times, 12/7).