A Record 117 Women Won Office, Reshaping America’s Leadership

A Record 117 Women Won Office, Reshaping America’s Leadership

This is a special post-election edition of Gender Letter. Tell me what you think at dearmaya@nytimes.com.

A record 117 women won elections across the United States on Tuesday, flipping seats and taking names.

Voters, who turned out in a major way, collectively gave control of the House of Representatives to Democrats, and 17 of the 27 seats they’ve gained so far will be filled by women. Republicans strengthened their majority in the Senate, gaining two seats, one of which went to Marsha Blackburn, who will be Tennessee’s first female senator.

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So, yes: The so-called Year of the Woman is living up to its name, though women remain far from having equal representation in Congress. About one in five members of the 116th Congress will be women when it is sworn in next year; women constitute over 50 percent of the U.S. population.

On a night of firsts, here’s what some of the women who made history said in their victory speeches.

  • “Law enforcement reminds me regularly: If we don’t secure that southern border, it turns every state into a border state, every town into a border town. So you have my commitment on that.”
    Marsha Blackburn, an anti-abortion Republican closely allied with President Trump, who will be Tennessee’s first woman senator.

  • “When it comes to women of color candidates, folks don’t just talk about a glass ceiling; what they describe is a concrete one. But you know what breaks through concrete? Seismic shifts.”
    Ayanna Pressley, above, who will become the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. She beat a 10-term incumbent in the Democratic primary and vowed to pursue “activist leadership” to advance a progressive agenda.

  • “We have the opportunity to reset expectations about what people think when they think of Kansas. We know there are so many of us who welcome everyone, who see everyone and who know that everyone should have the opportunity to succeed.”
    Sharice Davids, a former White House fellow, is a lesbian; she and fellow Democrat Debra Haaland of New Mexico are the first Native-American women elected to Congress.

  • “In my family, there were no girl chores or boy chores. There’s just things to get done. So that’s what we’re going to do. I’ve got some big plans for this state.”
    Kristi Noem, a Republican, will be the first female governor of South Dakota. She’s a four-term congresswoman who campaigned on her conservative record and her experience working on her family’s farm.

  • “We launched this campaign, because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, then it is up to us to voice them.”
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat from New York, became the youngest woman elected to Congress at age 29. She has never held elected office, and like Ms. Pressley, she defeated a white man who had served 10 terms in a Democratic primary.


The Times has removed its paywall for the elections. Register or log in to nytimes.com for unlimited access until 10 a.m. Thursday.

  • The results: Breaking down an Election Day that swept women into positions of power from coast to coast. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • A parade of women help Democrats. Women stepped up as candidates, voters, activists and volunteers in ways that could alter the nation’s political landscape. [The New York Times]

  • Bye, barriers. Here are more of the women, Native Americans, Muslims and L.B.G.T. candidates who made history on Tuesday. [Buzzfeed]

  • Voter turnout soars. Democrats and Republicans showed up in huge numbers. In some places, the number of voters was up by double-digit percentages. [The New York Times]

  • A blue-ish wave. The blue wave that Democrats had hoped for didn’t fully materialize, but voters sent a clear message that they want checks on President Trump, our congressional correspondent writes. [The New York Times]

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