For an overview of the key features of the CAWP Women Elected Officials Database, watch our webinar. To get quick answers to our most frequently asked questions, see below.
What levels of office are included in this database and how far back does it go?
- This database contains data on women elected officials from the congressional, statewide elected executive, and state legislative levels. Each level goes back to the very first woman to hold office in that level.
What are statewide elected executive offices?
- The CAWP Women Elected Officials Database only includes women who have hold statewide elected executive offices. These are offices that are elected on a statewide basis for executive positions. These do not include executive positions that are appointed or that are elected by district. These offices change from year to year and by state based on state constitutions, causing variance in which offices you will see reflected in our database over time
Why are there multiple ways to search a year in the database?
- The first option, “Currently Serving,” displays the officeholders who are in office as of the date you are searching. The second option, “Served During Year(s)” allows you to search for any officeholder who served in a given year, including women who only served for a portion of a year. The third option, “Served at End of Year,” allows you to search for the final number of officeholders serving at the end of that year. These end-of-year numbers are used on our historical fact sheets to denote the final level of women’s representation for that year and can be used to make progression over time charts.
For what years is officeholder racial/ethnic identification available in the database?
- Racial/ethnic identification is available for all congressional and statewide elected executive officeholders. For state legislative officeholders, racial/ethnic identification is available for all state legislators from 1997 to present; partial race/ethnicity data is available in earlier years.
How do we determine officeholders’ racial/ethnic identification?
- We determine officeholders’ racial/ethnic identification by relying on historical records, contemporary public records, and officeholder self-identification. Public records include interviews and website or other available biographies. We also contact current officeholders directly to confirm their preferred racial/ethnic identification. We label officeholders for whom we were unable to determine racial identification as “unavailable.”
How do we code officeholders who identify as multiracial? How are they counted in our summary statistics?
- Officeholders who identify explicitly as multiracial are listed as "Multiracial Alone". Those who identify as more than one race/ethnicity are included in each group with which they identify. We strongly caution against adding totals from each racial/ethnic group, as it will double count officeholders. For those choosing to report an aggregate count of “women of color,” including any women with racial/ethnic identities other than white, please refer to the database search tool by race/ethnicity (and select all but white and unavailable) or contact CAWP staff directly.
What kind of data on the U.S. territories and the Washington, D.C. City Council does the database hold?
- Currently, CAWP’s Women Elected Officials Database includes data on women elected officials at the sub-national level from the U.S. territories and the Washington, D.C. City Council from 2018 to present. Although our data only goes back to 2018, some officeholders from these areas may have served before this period; that service is not yet reflected in the database. More historical data on women in the U.S. territories and the D.C. City Council may become available in the future. These data do not include congressional delegates, who represent the U.S. territories and Washington, D.C. in the U.S. Congress; complete historical data for these officeholders is included in the database.
What party affiliations are included in this database?
- This database includes party affiliations for all women officeholders, including those representing major and third parties, those who have been elected as Independents, and those elected to nonpartisan positions. Some states use alternative party labels for major parties, including Minnesota’s Democratic Farm-Laborer (DFL) party; those parties are combined under the major-party label in our search and summary data and visualizations, but are noted in candidate-specific information and data available for export. The two major parties of the Puerto Rican government, Partido Nuevo Progresista and Partido Popular Democratico, are also included to capture party affiliations for women elected officials in the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico.
Why does the the data provided on the “By Location” page only go back to 1975?
- Searching the CAWP Women Elected Officials Database by location allows you to see women as a proportion of all officeholders. For accuracy, we have limited the amount of years available to those for which we have an accurate denominator (total number of officeholders serving, including men, at that time). To see the raw numbers of women officeholders for any given state back to 1893, use the search in the left side bar of all other pages.
Where can I find more summary historical or current data on women officeholders?
- You can find summary historical or current data on women officeholders on the Facts section of our website.
Where can I find data on women candidates, not officeholders?
- You can find data on women candidates on our Election Watch page.
Where can I find more information about women officeholders and representation in my state?
- You can find more information about women officeholders and representation in your state on our state by state fact sheet page.
I want to learn more about why women are (and have been) underrepresented in U.S. politics. Where can I go?
- You can learn more about why women are (and have been) underrepresented in U.S. politics on our research and scholarship page.
Who do I contact if I have any questions/comments on the database?
- For any questions/comments or to submit any corrections, please contact Chelsea Hill, Data Services Manager.