Every Woman Who Has Served in the United States Senate

Up until 1922, the U.S. Senate was entirely male.
Every Female U.S. Senator Slideshow
Every Woman Who Has Served in the United States Senate Newsweek

Of the roughly 1,300 people who have served as members of the United States Senate, only 52 of them have been women. That's just 0.04 percent. In fact, up until 1922, the U.S. Senate was entirely male. So, yeah, it's about time those 52 women get some recognition.

The first female U.S. senator was Rebecca Latimer Felton from Georgia. She was appointed to fill a vacancy (which up until the 1970s was the main way most women served in the U.S. Senate), and held the seat for a whopping 24 hours. Felton had a long career in journalism and politics, and her appointment was largely a symbolic one.

Since Felton, women, both Republicans and Democrats, some appointed, some elected on their own right, have become members of the U.S. Senate. In total, there have been 34 Democrat female U.S. senators and 18 Republicans. No woman U.S. senator has ever died in office.

But the actual U.S. Senate chambers, and some of the men these women served alongside, weren't quite ready for the subtle onslaught of female senators. The U.S. Senate chambers didn't have a women's restroom on the actual Senate floor until 1992. Even worse, women weren't allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor until 1993.

There have been a couple of notable firsts.

  • Arkansas's Hattie Caraway became the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate.
  • Kansas's Nancy Kassebaum became the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate without her husband having previously served in Congress.
  • Minnesota's Muriel Humphrey Brown because the first Second Lady of the United States to serve in the U.S. Senate. She was appointed to the seat following the death of her husband, former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
  • California's Dianne Feinstein became the first woman to defeat an incumbent U.S. senator. She's also the first female Jewish U.S. senator.
  • Illinois's Carol Mosely Braun became the first African-American female U.S. senator.
  • North Carolina's Kay Hagan is the first woman to defeat an incumbent female U.S. senator. She defeated Republican Elizabeth Dole.
  • Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin is the first openly gay person to serve in the U.S. Senate.
  • Iowa's Joni Ernst is the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate.
  • Illinois's Tammy Duckworth is both the first double amputee in the U.S. Senate and the first senator to give birth in office.

Here are all the trailblazing women who have served in the U.S. Senate.

Rebecca Latimer Felton
Rebecca Latimer Felton (Democrat from Georgia). Served in 1922. She holds the distinction of being the first female U.S. senator. Library of Congress