Women Made Historic Gains in Election 2018.

But Gender Still Shapes U.S. Campaigns.

Women ran for and were elected to office in record numbers in the 2018 election. They made historic gains across levels of office and reached new milestones for women’s political representation. But not all women achieved record levels of success in 2018. Republican women’s representation dropped across offices and within their party. 

The progress for all women in election 2018 should also be put into important context. First, despite breaking records for candidacy and officeholding, women – who are just over half of the population – were still underrepresented among all candidates and remain less than one-third of elected officials. 

Finally, measuring progress for women in electoral politics means looking beyond the numbers. When considering the gender and intersectional dynamics at play in U.S. campaigns, it is clear that there is much progress left to make in creating equitable conditions for success for women and men in American elections. 

This report was written with support from Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company founded by Melinda French Gates. In it, we:

  • Break down the data on 2018 election candidates and success across levels of office and by candidate gender, race, and party; 
  • Put the data on gender, candidacy, and representation into historical context; 
  • Discuss why and how women ran for office in election 2018, and what it means for the future; 
  • Outline both the durability and destruction of gendered and intersectional barriers to candidacy and campaign success, drawing upon the latest scholarship and its application to elections 2018 and 2020; and 
  • Offer initial insights into the gendered and intersectional terrain that women candidates are navigating as we enter another election season, this time with a record number of women running for President. 

The story of gender in election 2018, as well as what it tells us about the future for women candidates and their success, is more complex than simply celebrating a “surge” in women running and winning in one election. Explore the content in this report to learn more.