Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Women and Congressional Elections: A Century of Change

Barbara Palmer and Dennis Simon
Women and Congressional Elections: A Century of Change
ISBN: 978-1-58826-815-0
ISBN: 978-1-58826-840-2
2012/285 pages/LC: 2012010117
Tower Center Political Studies
"Readers interested in women's studies and U.S. politics will enjoy digging into the book during this election year and beyond."—Library Journal

"A sweeping overview and analysis of the election of women to national office in the United States…. Palmer and Simon's work substantially contributes to our knowledge of women and politics from both a historical and a contemporary perspective."—Barbara Burrell, Northern Illinois University

"An indispensable account of women's election to Congress…. comprehensive, accessible, and empirically rich. Women and Congressional Elections is a great choice for courses on Congress, elections, and women and politics."—Kira Sanbonmatsu,  Rutgers University


Since 1916, when the first woman was elected to the US Congress, fewer than 10 percent of all members have been women. Why is this number so extraordinarily small? And how has the presence of women in the electoral arena changed over the past hundred years? Barbara Palmer and Dennis Simon combine a rich analytical narrative, data on nearly 40,000 candidates, and colorful stories from the campaign trail in the most thorough accounting of women's performance in House and Senate elections ever presented.

The authors go beyond the conventional wisdom as they explore the continuing underrepresentation of women in Congress. In the process, they show how the "rules of the game"—together with an important cluster of demographic characteristics that can make a district more or less "women friendly"—have shaped opportunities for female candidates across a century of US history.


Barbara Palmer is associate professor of political science at Baldwin-Wallace College.The late Dennis Simon was Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Political Science at Southern Methodist University.


  • Women of the Early Twentieth Century.
  • A Long Slow Road: The Integration of Women Into Congress.
  • Arrested Development: A History of Careerism and Incumbency.
  • Keeping It In the Family: Widows, Daughters, and Mothers.
  • Women as Targets: Understanding the Competitive Environment.
  • Red vs. Blue: A History of the Party Gap.
  • Demographics Is Destiny: Where Women Are Elected.
  • Women of the Twenty-First Century.