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Americans Say More Women Officeholders Would Benefit Country

Americans Say More Women Officeholders Would Benefit Country

Most women, close to half of men think country would be better off

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Fifty-seven percent of U.S. adults believe the country would be governed better if more women were in political office, more than double the percentage who think it would be governed worse (22%). Another 21% volunteer that it makes no difference or have no opinion.

The current proportion of Americans saying more female officeholders would benefit the country is the same as in Gallup’s initial measurement in 1999, although it is lower than a 63% reading from 2014.

Meanwhile, since 1999, the share of Americans thinking more women in government would make things worse has increased by eight percentage points, from 14% to 22%, while the proportion saying it would make no difference has declined by the same amount.


The latest results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Feb. 2-22.

While women’s representation in government still doesn’t approach their roughly 50% share of the U.S. adult population, it is at record highs across most levels of government.

Women currently represent between a quarter and a third of elected leaders at all levels of government in the U.S., including 29% in the U.S. House of Representatives, 25% in the U.S. Senate, 24% of state governors, 33% of state legislators, 34% of large-city mayors and 32% of municipal officeholders. Additionally, Kamala Harris is serving as the nation’s first female vice president, and four of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices are women.

Gender Gap in Positive Views About Women’s Leadership Widens

Women have consistently exceeded men in believing the country would benefit from having more women in office, but the gender gap has increased because women have become slightly more positive about women’s influence, while men have become less so.

In 1999, 62% of women versus 51% of men thought the country would be better off with more women officeholders -- an 11-point difference. Today, those figures are 68% and 46%, respectively -- a 22-point difference.


Attitudes have changed even more starkly among partisans, with Democrats becoming substantially more likely to think the country would be better off with more women in office -- rising from about two-thirds saying this in 1999 and 2000 to more than 80% in 2019 and 2024.

At the same time, after registering just under 50% from 1999 to 2014, Republicans’ belief that women officeholders would benefit the nation fell to 21% in 2019 and remains depressed at 32% today. This also helps explain the gender trends, as men are more likely than women to be Republican.

Throughout the trend, more than half of political independents have said the country would be better off with more women in office, although today’s 54% is down from the high point of 65% in 2014.


Republicans today are more inclined to say the country would be worse off with more women in government (43%) than to say it would be better off. This is similar to their views in February 2019 but a switch from 1999 to 2014, when more thought women would improve than worsen government.

The shift in partisans’ views between 2014 and 2019 spans several events that may explain why Democrats grew more likely to see women in politics as a benefit, while Republicans became less convinced. This includes Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee; a large number of Democratic women elected to Congress for the first time in 2018 in what was billed as the Year of the Woman; and Nancy Pelosi’s return as U.S. House speaker in 2019.

Republicans’ latest responses could partly reflect their preference in the 2024 Republican primaries, which had narrowed to Donald Trump and Nikki Haley at the time of the survey.

For the future of women in politics, it’s notable that the 2024 poll finds little change by age on this question, with majorities of all age groups saying the country would be better governed with more women in office. This includes 62% of young adults (aged 18 to 34), as well as 56% of middle-aged and older adults.

Bottom Line

U.S. election researchers cite a variety of historical, structural and cultural reasons why women are underrepresented in elective office. One factor working in women’s favor, and possibly helping to explain their recent gains, is that Americans are much more likely to believe women officeholders improve rather than worsen the way the country is governed.

However, this sentiment will take women only so far if it’s concentrated in one political party. As it stands, rank-and-file Democrats largely champion more women in office, while Republicans have become skeptical. That doesn’t necessarily mean Republicans won’t vote for female Republican candidates. But if “women” are now synonymous with “Democrats” in Republicans' minds, it could hinder electoral opportunities for Republican women in subtle ways.

Women have a long way to go to maximize their representation at all levels of government. What seems clear is that it will take more women candidates from both parties to get there.

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