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Women in the United States Senate

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This article covers the history of women in the United States Senate and various milestones achieved by female senators. It includes a list of all women who have served in the Senate, a list of current female senators, and a list of states represented by women in the Senate. The first female U.S. senator, Rebecca Latimer Felton, represented Georgia for a single day in 1922, and the first woman elected to the Senate, Hattie Caraway, was elected from Arkansas in 1932. Sixty women have served in the upper house of the United States Congress since its establishment in 1789. As of October 3, 2023, there are 25 women (15 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 1 Independent) serving as U.S. senators out of 100 possible seats. Additionally, Kamala Harris as vice president serves as President of the Senate.

Nancy Kassebaum is currently the oldest living former female member of the Senate at the age 91.


Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-Georgia), the first female member of the United States Senate, who served for a single day in 1922.
One woman (Barbara Mikulski) was reelected and four women were elected to the Senate in 1992, the "Year of the Woman," Left to right: Senators Murray, Moseley Braun, Mikulski, Feinstein, and Boxer.
By the 111th United States Congress (2009–2011), the number of female senators had increased to 17, including 4 Republicans and 13 Democrats

For its first 130 years in existence, the Senate's membership was entirely male. Until 1920, few women ran for the Senate. Until the 1990s, very few were elected. This paucity of women was due to many factors, including the lack of women's suffrage in many states until the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, women's limited access to higher education until the mid-1900s, public perceptions of gender roles, and barriers to women's advancement such as sex discrimination.

The first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton; she represented Georgia for one day in 1922. Ten years later, Hattie Caraway became the first woman to win election to the Senate, representing Arkansas. In 1949, Margaret Chase Smith began her service in the Senate; she was the first woman to serve in both the House and Senate. Her 1960 reelection bid resulted in Chase Smith winning the nation's first-ever United States Senate election with two female major party nominees. In 1972, Elaine Edwards was appointed as the first Catholic woman in the Senate by her husband, the Governor of Louisiana, while she was Louisiana's First Lady; she retired after three months. In 1978, Muriel Humphrey Brown became the first and only Second Lady to serve in the United States Senate, after Hubert Humphrey's unexpected death in office. Humphrey Brown was appointed by the Governor of Minnesota to fill her late husband's Senate seat; she served for less than one year and did not seek to be elected to her husband's seat.

In 1978, Nancy Kassebaum became the first woman ever elected to a full term in the Senate, representing Kansas, without her husband having previously served in Congress.[n 1] Since 1978, there has always been at least one woman in the Senate. The first woman to be elected to the Senate without any family connections was Florida Republican Paula Hawkins, elected in 1980. She was also the first and, to date, only female member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints elected to the United States Senate. In 1990, there were still few women in the Senate as compared to the number of women in the House. The trend of few women in the Senate began to change in the wake of the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings and the subsequent election of the 103rd United States Congress in 1992, which was dubbed the "Year of the Woman."[1] Barbara Mikulski was reelected and four new Democratic women were elected to the Senate. They were Patty Murray of Washington, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California, and Barbara Boxer of California. Carol Moseley Braun was the first woman of color to serve in the Senate and the first woman to defeat an incumbent senator after she won the 1992 Democratic primary election over Alan Dixon. Later in 1992, Feinstein was the first woman to defeat an incumbent senator from a different party when she defeated John Seymour in a special election. Feinstein entered the Senate the same year as the first female Jewish senator.[2][3][4]

Bathroom facilities for women in the Senate on the Senate chamber level were first provided in 1992.[5] Women were not allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor until 1993.[6][7] In 1993, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Carol Moseley Braun wore pants onto the floor in defiance of the rule, and female support staff followed soon after, with the rule being amended later that year by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Martha Pope to allow women to wear pants on the floor so long as they also wore a jacket.[6][7]

The first time two female senators from the same state served concurrently was beginning in 1993; Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-CA) were both elected in 1992, with Feinstein taking office that same year (as the result of a special election) and Boxer taking office in 1993; Boxer served until 2016, when she retired, and Feinstein was joined by Kamala Harris. In June 1993, Kay Bailey Hutchison won a special election in Texas, and joined Kassebaum as a fellow female Republican senator. These additions significantly diminished the popular perception of the Senate as an exclusive "boys' club". Since 1992, there has been at least one new woman elected to the Senate every two years, with the exception of 2004 (Lisa Murkowski was elected for the first time in 2004, but had been appointed to the seat since 2002).

Eight Democratic women senators appear at the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver. It has become a tradition at Democratic conventions for incumbent women senators to appear on opening night.

Olympia Snowe of Maine arrived in the Senate in 1995, having previously served in the US House of Representatives and both houses of the Maine state legislature. She and later Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming are the only women to have served in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of the federal legislature. In 2000, Stabenow and Maria Cantwell became the first women to defeat incumbent elected senators in a general election, unseating Senators Spencer Abraham and Slade Gorton respectively.[n 2] Hillary Clinton is the first and only First Lady to run for or win a Senate seat. Clinton joined the Senate in 2001, becoming the first female senator from New York, and served until 2009, when she resigned to become the 67th United States Secretary of State, under President Barack Obama. She was replaced by Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been elected three times and was herself a candidate for president in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.

In 2008, Kay Hagan became the first woman to unseat a female incumbent, Elizabeth Dole. Upon the opening of the 112th United States Congress in 2011, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen was joined by newly elected Republican Kelly Ayotte, making up the first Senate delegation of two women belonging to different parties.

In November 2022, Dianne Feinstein became the longest-serving female senator in history,[8] surpassing Barbara Mikulski,[9][10] having served for 30 years.[11] Feinstein was retiring at the end of her last term, scheduled for January 3, 2025,[12] but died on September 29, 2023, before her term ended.[13] Subsequently, Patty Murray surpassed Feinstein as the longest serving woman senator, and continues to serve.

In 2012, a record five new female senators were elected. This beat the record of four new female senators from 1992 and set the record of five new women and eleven female senators in one Senate class. The five new women were Democrats Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Republican Deb Fischer of Nebraska. Hirono was the first Asian-American woman and first Buddhist in the Senate, and Baldwin was the first openly gay person in the Senate.

In 2014, Joni Ernst was elected as the first female combat veteran to serve in the Senate. In 2016, Catherine Cortez Masto was elected as the first Latina senator, while Tammy Duckworth was elected as the first female double amputee in the Senate.[14] In a June 2016 primary election, as a result of California's recent establishment of the top-two primary, Attorney General of California Kamala Harris and U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez became the first women of the same party to advance to a Senate general election. In November 2016, Harris became the first woman to defeat a woman of the same party in a Senate general election.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first former female senator to win a major party's nomination for President of the United States. Despite winning a plurality of the popular vote, she ultimately lost her bid to Donald Trump.

Starting in 2017, United States Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, have held the distinction of being the first and second women elected as both the governor of a state and a United States senator from a state; both served as Governor of New Hampshire before their time in the Senate.

In 2018, Kyrsten Sinema defeated Martha McSally, becoming Arizona's first female senator, as well as the first openly bisexual senator from any state. Two weeks later, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced that he would appoint McSally to Arizona's other Senate seat, which was becoming vacant with the resignation of Jon Kyl. Sinema and McSally have been the only concurrently serving female senators to have previously faced off against each other in a Senate election. McSally exited the Senate in late 2020 after losing that year's special election to Mark Kelly, a Democrat.

Also in 2018, Jacky Rosen made political history as the first female one-term outgoing U.S. representative ever elected to the Senate.[15]

In 2023, Patty Murray became the first woman to serve as president pro tempore, a role traditionally given to the most senior member of the majority party in the United States Senate. Dianne Feinstein was the most senior Democratic senator, but declined to serve. This made Murray the third person in line to become president, after the vice president and the Speaker of the House.[16]

Sixty women have served in the United States Senate since its establishment in 1789.[17] Cumulatively, 36 female U.S. senators have been Democrats, while 23 have been Republicans and one is an independent. As of 2023, no female U.S. senator has ever won election to the House after her Senate term, resigned from a state governorship for the purpose of a Senate appointment by her successor, also won election as an independent or to represent more than one state in non-consecutive elections, served both seats of a state at different times, or represented a third party in her career. In December 2022, Senator Kyrsten Sinema became the first female senator to switch her party affiliation while in office. In September 2023, Senator Dianne Feinstein became the first female senator to die in office.

Some female U.S. senators have later run for U.S. president or vice president—see list of female United States presidential and vice presidential candidates. In 2020, Kamala Harris became the first female senator, current or past, to win her vice presidential election bid and become the first female President of the United States Senate.

Election, selection, and family[edit]

Before 2001, a plurality of women joined the U.S. Senate through appointment following the death or resignation of a husband or father who previously held the seat. An example is Muriel Humphrey (D-MN), the widow of former senator and Vice President Hubert Humphrey; she was appointed to fill his seat until a special election was held (in which she did not run). However, with the election of three women in 2000, the balance shifted; more women have now entered service as a senator by winning elections than by being appointed.[citation needed]

Recent examples of selection include Jean Carnahan and Lisa Murkowski. In 2000, Jean Carnahan (D-MO) was appointed to fill the Senate seat won by her recently deceased husband, Mel Carnahan. Carnahan—even though dead—defeated the incumbent senator, John Ashcroft. Carnahan's widow was named to fill his seat by Missouri Governor Roger Wilson until a special election was held. However, she lost the subsequent 2002 election to fill out the rest of the six-year term. In 2002, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was appointed by her father Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski, who had resigned from the Senate to become governor, to serve the remaining two years of his term. Lisa Murkowski defeated former governor Tony Knowles in her reelection bid in 2004.

Two recent members of the Senate brought with them a combination of name recognition resulting from the political careers of their famous husbands and their own substantial experience in public affairs. The first, former senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), was married to former Senate Majority Leader and 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole and served as Secretary of Transportation under President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of Labor under President George H.W. Bush; she later ran a losing bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. The other, former senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), wife of former President Bill Clinton, was First Lady of the United States and First Lady of Arkansas before taking her seat in 2000. She too ran an unsuccessful campaign for her party's presidential nomination in 2008; she resigned in 2009 to become the secretary of state for the eventual victor of that election, Barack Obama. In 2016, she ran a successful campaign for her party's presidential nomination, eventually losing in the general election to Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Another famous name is Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-KS), the daughter of former Kansas governor and one-time presidential candidate Alf Landon. After retiring from the Senate, she married former senator Howard Baker (R-TN). Kassebaum has the distinction of being the first female elected senator who did not succeed her husband in Congress (Margaret Chase Smith was only elected to the Senate after succeeding her husband to his House seat).

Among the women elected or appointed in Senate history, by stature, Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) are the shortest, at 4 feet 11 inches (1.50 m), whereas Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) is the tallest, at 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m).[18][19][20]

List of female U.S. senators[edit]

Portrait Name
State Term Entered by Left for Party
Term start Term end Length of
service (days)
Sen. Felton Rebecca Felton
(1835–1930)[n 3]
Georgia (U.S. state) Georgia November 21, 1922 November 21, 1922 1
(0 days)
Appointment by Thomas W. Hardwick Appointment ended Democratic
Sen. Caraway Hattie Caraway
(1878–1950)[n 4]
Arkansas Arkansas November 13, 1931 January 3, 1945 4,800
(13 years, 51 days)
Appointment by Harvey Parnell Lost renomination Democratic
Sen. Long Rose Long
(1892–1970)[n 5]
Louisiana Louisiana January 31, 1936 January 3, 1937 338
(338 days)
Appointment by James Noe Retired Democratic
Sen. Graves Dixie Graves
Alabama Alabama August 20, 1937 January 10, 1938 143
(143 days)
Appointment by Bibb Graves Appointment ended Democratic
Sen. Pyle Gladys Pyle
South Dakota South Dakota November 9, 1938 January 3, 1939 55
(55 days)
Special election Retired Republican
Sen. Bushfield Vera C. Bushfield
(1889–1976)[n 6]
South Dakota South Dakota October 6, 1948 December 26, 1948 81
(81 days)
Appointment by George Mickelson Appointment ended Republican
Sen. Smith Margaret Chase Smith
Maine Maine January 3, 1949 January 3, 1973 8,766
(24 years, 0 days)
Election Lost reelection Republican
Sen. Bowring Eva Bowring
Nebraska Nebraska April 16, 1954 November 7, 1954 205
(205 days)
Appointment by Robert B. Crosby Appointment ended Republican
Sen. Abel Hazel Abel
Nebraska Nebraska November 8, 1954 December 31, 1954 53
(53 days)
Special election Retired and resigned early[n 7] Republican
Sen. Neuberger Maurine Neuberger
(1907–2000)[n 8]
Oregon Oregon November 9, 1960 January 3, 1967 2,246
(6 years, 55 days)
Special election Retired Democratic
Sen. Edwards Elaine Edwards
Louisiana Louisiana August 1, 1972 November 13, 1972 104
(104 days)
Appointment by Edwin Edwards Appointment ended Democratic
Sen. Humphrey Muriel Humphrey
(1912–1998)[n 9]
Minnesota Minnesota January 25, 1978 November 7, 1978 286
(286 days)
Appointment by Rudy Perpich Appointment ended Democratic (DFL)
Sen. Allen Maryon Allen
(1925–2018)[n 10]
Alabama Alabama June 8, 1978 November 7, 1978 152
(152 days)
Appointment by George Wallace Lost nomination to finish term Democratic
Sen. Kassebaum Nancy Kassebaum
(born 1932)
Kansas Kansas December 23, 1978 January 3, 1997 6,586
(18 years, 11 days)
Election[n 11] Retired Republican
Sen. Hawkins Paula Hawkins
Florida Florida January 1, 1981 January 3, 1987 2,193
(6 years, 2 days)
Election[n 11] Lost reelection Republican
Sen. Mikulski Barbara Mikulski
(born 1936)
Maryland Maryland January 3, 1987 January 3, 2017 10,959
(30 years, 0 days)
Election Retired Democratic
Sen. Burdick Jocelyn Burdick
(1922–2019)[n 12]
North Dakota North Dakota September 12, 1992 December 14, 1992 93
(93 days)
Appointment by George Sinner Appointment ended Democratic–NPL
Sen. Feinstein Dianne Feinstein
(1933–2023)[n 13]
California California November 4, 1992 September 29, 2023 11,286
(30 years, 329 days)
Special election Died in office Democratic
Sen. Boxer Barbara Boxer
(born 1940)
California California January 3, 1993 January 3, 2017 8,767
(24 years, 0 days)
Election Retired Democratic
Sen. Moseley Braun Carol Moseley-Braun
(born 1947)[n 14]
Illinois Illinois January 3, 1993 January 3, 1999 2,191
(6 years, 0 days)
Election Lost reelection Democratic
Sen. Murray Patty Murray
(born 1950)
Washington (state) Washington January 3, 1993 present 11,494
(31 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Hutchison Kay Hutchison
(born 1943)
Texas Texas June 14, 1993 January 3, 2013 7,143
(19 years, 203 days)
Special election Retired Republican
Sen. Snowe Olympia Snowe
(born 1947)
Maine Maine January 3, 1995 January 3, 2013 6,576
(18 years, 0 days)
Election Retired Republican
Sen. Frahm Sheila Frahm
(born 1945)
Kansas Kansas June 11, 1996 November 6, 1996 148
(148 days)
Appointment by Bill Graves Lost nomination to finish term Republican
Sen. Collins Susan Collins
(born 1952)
Maine Maine January 3, 1997 present 10,033
(27 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Republican
Sen. Landrieu Mary Landrieu
(born 1955)
Louisiana Louisiana January 3, 1997 January 3, 2015 6,575
(18 years, 0 days)
Election Lost reelection Democratic
Sen. Lincoln Blanche Lincoln
(born 1960)[n 15]
Arkansas Arkansas January 3, 1999 January 3, 2011 4,383
(12 years, 0 days)
Election Lost reelection Democratic
Sen. Cantwell Maria Cantwell
(born 1958)
Washington (state) Washington January 3, 2001 present 8,572
(23 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Carnahan Jean Carnahan
Missouri Missouri January 3, 2001 November 23, 2002 689
(1 year, 324 days)
Appointment by Roger B. Wilson Lost election to finish term Democratic
Sen. Clinton Hillary Clinton
(born 1947)
New York (state) New York January 3, 2001 January 21, 2009 2,940
(8 years, 18 days)
Election Resigned to become United States Secretary of State Democratic
Sen. Stabenow Debbie Stabenow
(born 1950)
Michigan Michigan January 3, 2001 present 8,572
(23 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Murkowski Lisa Murkowski
(born 1957)[n 16]
Alaska Alaska December 20, 2002 present 7,856
(21 years, 186 days)
Appointment by Frank Murkowski Incumbent Republican
Sen. Dole Elizabeth Dole
(born 1936)[n 17]
North Carolina North Carolina January 3, 2003 January 3, 2009 2,192
(6 years, 0 days)
Election Lost reelection[n 18] Republican
Sen. Klobuchar Amy Klobuchar
(born 1960)
Minnesota Minnesota January 3, 2007 present 6,381
(17 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic (DFL)
Sen. McCaskill Claire McCaskill
(born 1953)
Missouri Missouri January 3, 2007 January 3, 2019 4,383
(12 years, 0 days)
Election Lost reelection Democratic
Jeanne Shaheen
(born 1947)
New Hampshire New Hampshire January 3, 2009 present 5,650
(15 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Hagan Kay Hagan
North Carolina North Carolina January 3, 2009 January 3, 2015 2,191
(6 years, 0 days)
Election[n 18] Lost reelection Democratic
Sen. Gillibrand Kirsten Gillibrand
(born 1966)
New York (state) New York January 26, 2009 present 5,627
(15 years, 149 days)
Appointment by David Paterson Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Ayotte Kelly Ayotte
(born 1968)
New Hampshire New Hampshire January 3, 2011 January 3, 2017 2,192
(6 years, 0 days)
Election Lost reelection Republican
Sen. Baldwin Tammy Baldwin
(born 1962)[n 19]
Wisconsin Wisconsin January 3, 2013 present 4,189
(11 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Fischer Deb Fischer
(born 1951)
Nebraska Nebraska January 3, 2013 present 4,189
(11 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Republican
Sen. Heitkamp Heidi Heitkamp
(born 1955)
North Dakota North Dakota January 3, 2013 January 3, 2019 2,191
(6 years, 0 days)
Election Lost reelection Democratic–NPL
Sen. Hirano Mazie Hirono
(born 1947)[n 20]
Hawaii Hawaii January 3, 2013 present 4,189
(11 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Warren Elizabeth Warren
(born 1949)
Massachusetts Massachusetts January 3, 2013 present 4,189
(11 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Ernst Joni Ernst
(born 1970)
Iowa Iowa January 3, 2015 present 3,459
(9 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Republican
Sen. Moore Capito Shelley Moore Capito
(born 1953)
West Virginia West Virginia January 3, 2015 present 3,459
(9 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Republican
Sen. Cortez Masto Catherine Cortez Masto
(born 1964)[n 21]
Nevada Nevada January 3, 2017 present 2,728
(7 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Duckworth Tammy Duckworth
(born 1968)[n 22]
Illinois Illinois January 3, 2017 present 2,728
(7 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Harris Kamala Harris
(born 1964)[n 23]
California California January 3, 2017 January 18, 2021 1,476
(4 years, 15 days)
Election Resigned to become Vice President of the United States Democratic
Sen. Hassan Maggie Hassan
(born 1958)
New Hampshire New Hampshire January 3, 2017 present 2,728
(7 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Smith Tina Smith
(born 1958)
Minnesota Minnesota January 3, 2018 present 2,363
(6 years, 172 days)
Appointment by Mark Dayton Incumbent Democratic (DFL)
Sen. Hyde-Smith Cindy Hyde-Smith
(born 1959)
Mississippi Mississippi April 2, 2018 present 2,274
(6 years, 82 days)
Appointment by Phil Bryant Incumbent Republican
Sen. Blackburn Marsha Blackburn
(born 1952)[n 24]
Tennessee Tennessee January 3, 2019 present 1,998
(5 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Republican
Sen. Sinema Kyrsten Sinema
(born 1976)
Arizona Arizona January 3, 2019 present 1,998
(5 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
(since 2022)[n 25]
Sen. McSally Martha McSally
(born 1966)
Arizona Arizona January 3, 2019 December 2, 2020 699
(1 year, 334 days)
Appointment by Doug Ducey Lost election to finish term Republican
Sen. Rosen Jacky Rosen
(born 1957)
Nevada Nevada January 3, 2019 present 1,998
(5 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Democratic
Sen. Loeffler Kelly Loeffler
(born 1970)
Georgia (U.S. state) Georgia January 6, 2020 January 20, 2021 380
(1 year, 14 days)
Appointment by Brian Kemp Lost election to finish term Republican
Sen. Lummis Cynthia Lummis
(born 1954)
Wyoming Wyoming January 3, 2021 present 1,267
(3 years, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Republican
Sen. Britt Katie Britt
(born 1982)
Alabama Alabama January 3, 2023 present 537
(1 year, 172 days)
Election Incumbent Republican
Sen. Butler Laphonza Butler
(born 1979)[n 26]
California California October 1, 2023 present 266
(266 days)
Appointment by Gavin Newsom Incumbent Democratic

Currently serving female U.S. senators[edit]

Map of current female senators by state.      No female senators      One female senator      Two female senators

There are 25 women currently serving in the United States Senate. This is the second-highest number of women to have served concurrently in the Senate in U.S. history. Fifteen are Democrats, nine are Republicans, and one is an independent.

In January 2019, four new female senators (Blackburn, McSally, Rosen, and Sinema) were seated, but two others (Heitkamp and McCaskill) lost reelection bids, so the number of female senators reached 25, with 17 being Democrats and 8 being Republicans. In January 2020, Kelly Loeffler was appointed to the Senate from Georgia, increasing the number of women in the Senate to 26, the highest proportion of women serving as U.S. senators in history.

Pink represents the Women in the United States Senate
Pie chart showing current female senators. Pink is female

Martha McSally lost an election to finish John McCain's unexpired term on November 3, 2020, and left the Congress on December 2, which reduced the number of female senators to 25. On January 3, 2021, Cynthia Lummis, the first female senator from Wyoming, began her term, so the number of female senators reached 26 once again. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris was elected Vice President of the United States; she resigned her Senate seat on January 18 in anticipation of the scheduled commencement of her term as Vice President (and thus President of the Senate) on January 20, which reduced the number of female senators to 25. In addition, Loeffler lost the January 5 special election runoff for the remainder of the term to which she had been appointed, and she left office also on January 20, which further reduced the number of women serving in the Senate to 24. On December 9, 2022, Sinema defected from the Democratic Party to become a registered independent, leaving 15 of her fellow female senators from her former party, and, on January 3, 2023, Katie Britt, the first female Republican senator from Alabama and also the first woman ever elected to the Senate from her state, began her term as well, increasing the number to 25 again. The death of Dianne Feinstein on September 29, 2023, brought the number back down to 24. The seating of Feinstein's replacement, appointed senator Laphonza Butler, on October 3 returned the figure to 25.

As of January 2023, four states (Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Washington) are represented by two female U.S. senators. Eleven incumbent women in the Senate are former U.S. representatives: Senators Stabenow, Cantwell, Gillibrand, Baldwin, Hirono, Moore Capito, Duckworth, Sinema, Rosen, Blackburn, and Lummis.

Class State Name Party Prior experience First took
3 Alabama Katie Britt Republican CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, chief of staff to predecessor Richard Shelby 2023

(age 40)

3 Alaska Lisa Murkowski Republican Alaska House of Representatives 2002

(age 45)

1 Arizona Kyrsten Sinema Independent[n 25] Arizona House of Representatives, Arizona Senate, U.S. House of Representatives 2019

(age 42)

1 California Laphonza Butler Democratic Member of the Board of Regents of the University of California, President of EMILY's List 2023

(age 44)

1 Hawaii Mazie Hirono Democratic Hawaii House of Representatives, Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, gubernatorial nominee, U.S. House of Representatives 2013

(age 65)

3 Illinois Tammy Duckworth Democratic U.S. House of Representatives 2017

(age 48)

2 Iowa Joni Ernst Republican Montgomery County Auditor, Iowa Senate 2015

(age 44)

2 Maine Susan Collins Republican Massachusetts Deputy Treasurer, gubernatorial nominee 1997

(age 44)

1 Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren Democratic Special Advisor to the President for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 2013

(age 63)

1 Michigan Debbie Stabenow Democratic Michigan House of Representatives, Michigan Senate, U.S. House of Representatives 2001

(age 50)

1 Minnesota Amy Klobuchar Democratic-Farmer-Labor Hennepin County Attorney 2007

(age 46)

2 Minnesota Tina Smith Democratic-Farmer-Labor Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota 2018

(age 60)

2 Mississippi Cindy Hyde-Smith Republican Mississippi Senate, Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce 2018

(age 58)

1 Nebraska Deb Fischer Republican Nebraska Legislature 2013

(age 61)

3 Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto Democratic Nevada Attorney General 2017

(age 52)

1 Nevada Jacky Rosen Democratic U.S. House of Representatives 2019

(age 61)

2 New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen Democratic New Hampshire Senate, Governor of New Hampshire 2009

(age 61)

3 New Hampshire Maggie Hassan Democratic New Hampshire Senate, Governor of New Hampshire 2017

(age 58)

1 New York Kirsten Gillibrand Democratic U.S. House of Representatives 2009

(age 43)

1 Tennessee Marsha Blackburn Republican Tennessee Senate, U.S. House of Representatives 2019

(age 66)

3 Washington Patty Murray Democratic Washington Senate 1993

(age 42)

1 Washington Maria Cantwell Democratic Washington House of Representatives, U.S. House of Representatives 2001

(age 42)

2 West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito Republican West Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. House of Representatives 2015

(age 62)

1 Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin Democratic Wisconsin State Assembly, U.S. House of Representatives 2013

(age 50)

2 Wyoming Cynthia Lummis Republican Wyoming House of Representatives, Wyoming Senate, Wyoming Treasurer, U.S. House of Representatives 2021

(age 66)


List of states represented by women[edit]

Thirty-three states have been represented by female senators. As of October 3, 2023, 21 states are represented by female senators.

State Current Previous Total First woman senator Years represented by female senators Year first elected a female senator
Alabama 1 2 3 Dixie Graves 1937–1938, 1978, 2023–present 2022
Alaska 1 0 1 Lisa Murkowski 2002–present 2004
Arizona 1 1 2 Kyrsten Sinema &
Martha McSally
2019–present 2018
Arkansas 0 2 2 Hattie Caraway 1931–1945, 1999–2011 1932
California 1 3 4 Dianne Feinstein 1992–2023, 2023–present 1992 (special)
Colorado 0 0 0
Connecticut 0 0 0
Delaware 0 0 0
Florida 0 1 1 Paula Hawkins 1981–1987 1980
Georgia 0 2 2 Rebecca Felton 1922, 2020–2021 N / A; both women senators appointed
Hawaii 1 0 1 Mazie Hirono 2013–present 2012
Idaho 0 0 0
Illinois 1 1 2 Carol Moseley-Braun 1993–1999, 2017–present 1992
Indiana 0 0 0
Iowa 1 0 1 Joni Ernst 2015–present 2014
Kansas 0 2 2 Nancy Kassebaum 1978–1997 1978
Kentucky 0 0 0
Louisiana 0 3 3 Rose Long 1936–1937, 1972, 1997–2015 1936 (special)
Maine 1 2 3 Margaret Chase Smith 1949–1973, 1995–present 1948
Maryland 0 1 1 Barbara Mikulski 1987–2017 1986
Massachusetts 1 0 1 Elizabeth Warren 2013–present 2012
Michigan 1 0 1 Debbie Stabenow 2001–present 2000
Minnesota 2 1 3 Muriel Humphrey 1978, 2007–present 2006
Mississippi 1 0 1 Cindy Hyde-Smith 2018–present 2018 (special)
Missouri 0 2 2 Jean Carnahan 2001–2002, 2007–2019 2006
Montana 0 0 0
Nebraska 1 2 3 Eva Bowring 1954, 2013–present 1954 (special)
Nevada 2 0 2 Catherine Cortez Masto 2017–present 2016
New Hampshire 2 1 3 Jeanne Shaheen 2009–present 2008
New Jersey 0 0 0
New Mexico 0 0 0
New York 1 1 2 Hillary Clinton 2001–2009, 2009–present 2000
North Carolina 0 2 2 Elizabeth Dole 2003–2015 2002
North Dakota 0 2 2 Jocelyn Burdick 1992, 2013–2019 2012
Ohio 0 0 0
Oklahoma 0 0 0
Oregon 0 1 1 Maurine Neuberger 1960–1967 1960 (special)
Pennsylvania 0 0 0
Rhode Island 0 0 0
South Carolina 0 0 0
South Dakota 0 2 2 Gladys Pyle 1938–1939, 1948 1938 (special)
Tennessee 1 0 1 Marsha Blackburn 2019–present 2018
Texas 0 1 1 Kay Hutchison 1993–2013 1993 (special)
Utah 0 0 0
Vermont 0 0 0
Virginia 0 0 0
Washington 2 0 2 Patty Murray 1993–present 1992
West Virginia 1 0 1 Shelley Moore Capito 2015–present 2014
Wisconsin 1 0 1 Tammy Baldwin 2013–present 2012
Wyoming 1 0 1 Cynthia Lummis 2021–present 2020
Total 25 35 60 Rebecca Felton 1922, 1931–1945, 1948–1973,





Note: In the graph below, entry dates refer to the date the senator was sworn in, not the date of the appointment, or election.

Starting Total Graph Event
March 4, 1789 0    
November 21, 1922 1
Increase Rebecca Felton appointed
November 23, 1922 0   Decrease End of Rebecca Felton's appointment
December 9, 1931 1
Increase Hattie Caraway appointed
January 31, 1936 2
Increase Rose Long appointed
January 3, 1937 1
Decrease Rose Long retires
August 20, 1937 2
Increase Dixie Graves appointed
January 10, 1938 1
Decrease End of Dixie Graves's appointment
November 9, 1938 2
Increase Gladys Pyle begins service
January 3, 1939 1
Decrease Gladys Pyle retires
January 3, 1945 0   Decrease Hattie Caraway ends service
October 6, 1948 1
Increase Vera C. Bushfield appointed
December 27, 1948 0   Decrease End of Vera C. Bushfield's appointment
January 3, 1949 1
Increase Margaret Chase Smith begins service
April 16, 1954 2
Increase Eva Bowring appointed
November 7, 1954 1
Decrease End of Eva Bowring's appointment
November 8, 1954 2
Increase Hazel Abel begins service
December 31, 1954 1
Decrease Hazel Abel retires
November 9, 1960 2
Increase Maurine Neuberger begins service
January 3, 1967 1
Decrease Maurine Neuberger retires
August 1, 1972 2
Increase Elaine Edwards appointed
November 13, 1972 1
Decrease End of Elaine Edwards's appointment
January 3, 1973 0   Decrease Margaret Chase Smith ends service
January 25, 1978 1
Increase Muriel Humphrey appointed
June 8, 1978 2
Increase Maryon Allen appointed
November 7, 1978 0   DecreaseDecrease End of Muriel Humphrey's and Maryon Allen's appointments
December 23, 1978 1
Increase Nancy Kassebaum begins service
January 1, 1981 2
Increase Paula Hawkins begins service
September 16, 1992 3
Increase Jocelyn Burdick appointed
November 4, 1992 4
Increase Dianne Feinstein begins service
December 14, 1992 3
Decrease End of Jocelyn Burdick's appointment
January 3, 1993 6
IncreaseIncreaseIncrease Barbara Boxer, Carol Moseley Braun, and Patty Murray begin service
June 14, 1993 7
Increase Kay Hutchison begins service
January 3, 1995 8
Increase Olympia Snowe begins service
June 11, 1996 9
Increase Sheila Frahm appointed
November 6, 1996 8
Decrease End of Sheila Frahm's appointment
January 3, 1997 9
IncreaseIncreaseDecrease Susan Collins and Mary Landrieu begin service;
Nancy Kassebaum retires
January 3, 2001 13
IncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncrease Maria Cantwell, Hillary Clinton, and Debbie Stabenow begin service;
Jean Carnahan appointed
November 23, 2002 12
Decrease End of Jean Carnahan's appointment
December 20, 2002 13
Increase Lisa Murkowski appointed
January 3, 2003 14
Increase Elizabeth Dole begins service
January 3, 2007 16
IncreaseIncrease Amy Klobuchar and Claire McCaskill begin service
January 3, 2009 17
IncreaseIncreaseDecrease Jeanne Shaheen and Kay Hagan begin service; Elizabeth Dole ends service
January 21, 2009 16
Decrease Hillary Clinton resigns to become Secretary of State
January 26, 2009 17
Increase Kirsten Gillibrand appointed
January 3, 2013 20
IncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseDecreaseDecrease Tammy Baldwin, Deb Fischer, Heidi Heitkamp, Mazie Hirono, and Elizabeth Warren begin service;
Kay Hutchison and Olympia Snowe retire
January 3, 2015 20
IncreaseIncreaseDecreaseDecrease Shelley Moore Capito and Joni Ernst begin service; Kay Hagan and Mary Landrieu end service
January 3, 2017 21
IncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseDecreaseDecreaseDecrease Catherine Cortez Masto, Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris, and Maggie Hassan begin service; Barbara Boxer and Barbara Mikulski retire; Kelly Ayotte ends service
January 3, 2018 22
Increase Tina Smith appointed
April 9, 2018 23
Increase Cindy Hyde Smith appointed
January 3, 2019 25
IncreaseIncreaseIncreaseIncreaseDecreaseDecrease Marsha Blackburn, Kyrsten Sinema, and Jacky Rosen begin service; Martha McSally appointed; Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill end service
January 6, 2020 26
Increase Kelly Loeffler appointed
December 2, 2020 25
Decrease End of Martha McSally's appointment
January 3, 2021 26
Increase Cynthia Lummis begins service
January 18, 2021 25
Decrease Kamala Harris resigns to become Vice President of the United States
January 20, 2021 24
Decrease End of Kelly Loeffler's appointment
January 3, 2023 25
Increase Katie Britt begins service
September 29, 2023 24
Decrease Death of Dianne Feinstein
October 3, 2023 25
Increase Laphonza Butler appointed


Laphonza ButlerKatie BrittCynthia LummisKelly LoefflerKyrsten SinemaJacky RosenMartha McSallyMarsha BlackburnCindy Hyde-SmithTina SmithMaggie HassanKamala HarrisTammy DuckworthCatherine Cortez MastoShelley Moore CapitoJoni ErnstElizabeth WarrenMazie HironoHeidi HeitkampDeb FischerTammy BaldwinKelly AyotteKirsten GillibrandJeanne ShaheenKay HaganClaire McCaskillAmy KlobucharElizabeth DoleLisa MurkowskiDebbie StabenowHillary ClintonJean CarnahanMaria CantwellBlanche LincolnMary LandrieuSusan CollinsSheila FrahmOlympia SnoweKay Bailey HutchisonPatty MurrayCarol Moseley-BraunBarbara BoxerDianne FeinsteinJocelyn BurdickBarbara MikulskiPaula Hawkins (politician)Nancy KassebaumMaryon AllenMuriel HumphreyElaine S. EdwardsMaurine NeubergerHazel AbelEva BowringMargaret Chase SmithVera C. BushfieldGladys PyleDixie Bibb GravesRose McConnell LongHattie CarawayRebecca Latimer Felton

Concurrently serving women from the same state[edit]

On January 3, 2019, Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally became the first women from the same state to start serving in the Senate on the same date.

State Start date End date Duration Senior senator Junior senator
California January 3, 1993 January 18, 2021 10,242 days
(28 years, 15 days)
Dianne Feinstein (D) Barbara Boxer (D)
(January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2017),
8,766 days (24 years, 0 days)
Kamala Harris (D)
(January 3, 2017 – January 18, 2021),
1,476 days (4 years, 15 days)
Kansas June 11, 1996 November 6, 1996 148 days Nancy Kassebaum (R) Sheila Frahm (R)
Maine January 3, 1997 January 3, 2013 5,844 days
(16 years, 0 days)
Olympia Snowe (R) Susan Collins (R)
Washington January 3, 2001 Present 8,572 days
(23 years, 172 days)
Patty Murray (D) Maria Cantwell (D)
New Hampshire January 3, 2011 Present 4,920 days
(13 years, 172 days)
Jeanne Shaheen (D) Kelly Ayotte (R)
(January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2017),
2,192 days (6 years, 0 days)
Maggie Hassan (D)
(January 3, 2017–present),
2,728 days (7 years, 172 days)
Minnesota January 3, 2018 Present 2,363 days
(6 years, 172 days)
Amy Klobuchar (DFL) Tina Smith (DFL)
Nevada January 3, 2019 Present 1,998 days
(5 years, 172 days)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D) Jacky Rosen (D)
Arizona January 3, 2019 December 2, 2020 699 days
(1 year, 334 days)
Kyrsten Sinema (D) Martha McSally (R)

Elections with two women major-party nominees[edit]

Incumbent senators are in bold.

Elections with two women major-party nominees
Election year State Winner Second-place finisher Other major female candidates
1960 Maine Margaret Chase Smith Lucia Cormier
1986 Maryland Barbara Mikulski Linda Chavez
1998 Washington Patty Murray Linda Smith
2002 Louisiana Mary Landrieu Suzanne Haik Terrell
Maine (2) Susan Collins Chellie Pingree
2006 Maine (3) Olympia Snowe Jean Hay Bright
Texas Kay Bailey Hutchison Barbara Ann Radnofsky
2008 North Carolina[n 18] Kay Hagan Elizabeth Dole
2010 California Barbara Boxer Carly Fiorina
2012 California (2) Dianne Feinstein Elizabeth Emken
Hawaii Mazie Hirono Linda Lingle
New York Kirsten Gillibrand Wendy Long
2014 Maine (4) Susan Collins Shenna Bellows
West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito Natalie Tennant
2016 California (3) Kamala Harris Loretta Sanchez
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan Kelly Ayotte
2018 Arizona Kyrsten Sinema Martha McSally
Minnesota Tina Smith Karin Housley
Nebraska Deb Fischer Jane Raybould
New York (2) Kirsten Gillibrand Chele Farley
Washington (2) Maria Cantwell Susan Hutchison
Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin Leah Vukmir
2020 Iowa Joni Ernst Theresa Greenfield
Maine (5) Susan Collins Sara Gideon
West Virginia (2) Shelley Moore Capito Paula Jean Swearengin
Wyoming Cynthia Lummis Merav Ben-David
2022 Alaska Lisa Murkowski Kelly Tshibaka Pat Chesbro
Illinois Tammy Duckworth Kathy Salvi
Washington (3) Patty Murray Tiffany Smiley


On April 9, 2018, Tammy Duckworth, at age 50, gave birth to her daughter Maile Pearl, becoming the first sitting senator to give birth.[21] Shortly thereafter, the Senate's rules were changed to allow senators to bring with them to the Senate floor children under one year of age during votes, as well as explicitly allow breastfeeding.[22] The day after those rules were changed, Maile became the first baby on the Senate floor when Duckworth brought her.[22][23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Of the female senators who preceded Kassebaum: Rebecca Latimer Felton, Rose McConnell Long, Dixie Bibb Graves, Vera C. Bushfield, Eva Bowring, Elaine S. Edwards, Muriel Humphrey, and Maryon Pittman Allen were all appointed and were never elected; Gladys Pyle (R-SD) and Hazel Abel (R-NE), were elected, but not to full terms (i.e., to complete terms where the previous senator had died or resigned, not to new six-year terms); Hattie Caraway and Maurine Brown Neuberger were both elected to full six-year terms, but their husbands had held the seat previously. Margaret Chase Smith's (R-ME) husband never served in the Senate, but he did serve in the House. When he died, Margaret won the ensuing election. Of the appointed senators, Long, Bushfield, Humphrey, and Allen were all appointed to fill out part of the terms of their deceased husbands, while Graves and Edwards were appointed by their husbands, the governor of their states at the time. However, Kassebaum's father was a former governor of Kansas, which means that the first woman to be elected to the Senate without any family connections was Paula Hawkins, who was elected in 1980 to represent Florida.
  2. ^ Bob Krueger and John F. Seymour, defeated by Kay Bailey Hutchison and Dianne Feinstein respectively, were appointed to the Senate by the governors of their states.
  3. ^ Latimer Felton was the oldest woman appointed to the Senate (at age 87)
    Shortest-serving woman in the Senate
  4. ^ Succeeded her late husband
    First woman in the Senate to succeed her spouse
    First woman re-elected to the Senate
  5. ^ Succeeded her late husband
  6. ^ Succeeded her late husband
  7. ^ Abel resigned 3 days before the end of her term, a common practice to give her successor seniority advantage.
  8. ^ Followed her late husband (although she did not directly succeed him)
  9. ^ Succeeded her late husband
  10. ^ Succeeded her late husband
  11. ^ a b Predecessor resigned early to give successor seniority advantage, so the senator was appointed for the few days prior to the commencement of the elected term
  12. ^ Succeeded her late husband
  13. ^ First non-Christian (Jewish) woman elected to the Senate
  14. ^ First African-American woman elected to the Senate
  15. ^ Lincoln was the first youngest woman to hold the distinction of "youngest member of the Senate" (at age 38)
    Lincoln was also the youngest woman elected to the Senate (at age 38)
  16. ^ Succeeded her father
    First woman in the Senate to succeed a living parent
  17. ^ Married to Bob Dole
  18. ^ a b c When Kay Hagan defeated Elizabeth Dole, it was the first time in history a woman candidate defeated an incumbent woman.
  19. ^ First openly LGBT and lesbian woman elected to the Senate
  20. ^ First Asian-American woman elected to the Senate
    First Japanese-American woman elected to the Senate
    First Buddhist woman elected to the Senate
  21. ^ First Hispanic and Latina American woman elected to the Senate
  22. ^ First woman with a disability elected to the Senate
    First Southeast Asian-American (Thai) woman elected to the Senate
    First Amerasian or Eurasian woman elected to the Senate
  23. ^ First South Asian-American (Indian) woman elected to the Senate
    First Jamaican American woman elected to the Senate
    First woman of African-American and South Asian descent elected to the Senate
  24. ^ Blackburn was the oldest woman at the time of first election to the Senate (at 66 years and 5 months).
  25. ^ a b Sinema was elected as a Democrat in 2018, but switched to an independent in December 2022.
  26. ^ First openly LGBT woman of color appointed to the Senate
    First LGBT African American woman appointed to the Senate


  1. ^ "Year of the Woman". U.S. Senate.
  2. ^ "Jewesses in politics represent!". Jewish Women's Archive. November 5, 2002. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  3. ^ "Dianne Feinstein". Congress.gov. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  4. ^ "Barbara Boxer". Congress.gov. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  5. ^ Plaskow, Judith (July 8, 2008). "Embodiment, Elimination, and the Role of Toilets in Struggles for Social Justice". Cross Currents. 58 (1): 51–64. doi:10.1111/j.1939-3881.2008.00004.x.
  6. ^ a b Robin Givhan (January 21, 2004). "Moseley Braun: Lady in red". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Cooper, Kent (June 9, 2005). "The Long and Short of Capitol Style : Roll Call Special Features 50th Anniversary". Rollcall.com. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  8. ^ Franke-Ruta, Garance (January 5, 2011). "Barbara Mikulski Becomes Longest-Serving Female Senator". The Atlantic.
  9. ^ "Biography". Dianne Feinstein United States Senator for California. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  10. ^ Gaines, Danielle E. (December 17, 2020). "Capitol Meeting Room Named in Honor of Maryland's First Female U.S. Senator". Maryland Matters.
  11. ^ Schwartzman, Paul (December 12, 2016). "Passing the torch: Mikulski says goodbye to the Senate". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ Haberkorn, Jennifer (February 14, 2023). "Sen. Feinstein makes it official: She will retire at the end of her current term". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 14, 2023. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  13. ^ Swan, Rachel; Stein, Shira; Fracassa, Dominic; Echeverria, Danielle; Parker, Jordan; Toledo, Aldo (September 29, 2023). "Dianne Feinstein: Senator died of natural causes Friday morning". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on September 29, 2023. Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  14. ^ "U.S. Senate: Senators, 1789 to present". senate.gov. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  15. ^ Ostermeier, Eric (July 27, 2017). "Jacky Rosen's Historic 2018 US Senate Bid". Smart Politics. Archived from the original on November 24, 2018.
  16. ^ Shabad, Rebecca (January 3, 2023). "Sen. Patty Murray becomes first female president pro tempore". NBC News.
  17. ^ "Women in the U.S. Senate 1922–2015" (PDF). Center for American Women and Politics. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 3, 2015.
  18. ^ Kanin, Zach (November 17, 2007). "Does Height Matter in Politics?". HuffPost.
  19. ^ Saenz, Arlette (March 2, 2015). "Barbara Mikulski: From Girl Scout to Senator, 7 Things You Might Not Know About the Retiring Senator". ABC News.
  20. ^ "Risk, hoops memories entice new Dream owner Loeffler". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. June 4, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2020. A skinny 5-foot-11, her nickname on the court was NBC — 'Newborn Calf.'
  21. ^ "Tammy Duckworth Becomes First U.S. Senator To Give Birth While In Office". NPR.org. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  22. ^ a b Serfaty, Sunlen (April 18, 2018). "Babies now allowed on Senate floor after rule change". CNN.
  23. ^ "A duckling onesie and a blazer: The Senate floor sees its first baby, but many traditions stand". The Washington Post. April 19, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2018.

External links[edit]