The degree to which women of color are underrepresented makes it harder to increase their representation because of the huge advantage that incumbent candidates have over challengers in the majority of elections.
On average, women of color are of a lower income bracket than white men or women, which means that they face additional struggles when campaigning. When Nina Turner, former Ohio Senate minority whip, ran for Ohio secretary of state in 2014, she found that an obstacle to her fundraising was how donors typically decided how much money to give based on their perception of the candidate’s ability to fundraise. A candidate’s perceived ability to raise money is often dependent on the amount of money she has already raised, meaning that women of color often have the cards stacked against them.
There is hope for the representation of women of color moving forward. In November 2016, nine newly elected Congresswomen were women of color, leading to a total of 38 women of color holding seats in the U.S. House of Representatives - an all time record. This upward trajectory is great news for our national progress towards gender parity.
Check out our Milestones page to learn more about women breaking barriers throughout history.
Check out the Center for American Women and Politics to learn more about elected women of color.