Even when factoring in party affiliation, these disparities are evident. For example, Democrats hold 12 committee chairs and only two of those are held by women — just 17% despite the fact that women make up 39% of the Democratic Caucus. Nor does the seniority system of the House explain the gender gap in committee appointments as first-year, male House members were appointed to the Appropriations, State Affairs and Public Education committees while no freshman woman was granted this distinction. There are no credible excuses for leaving women out of these appointment opportunities in the House.
When women are excluded from these leadership positions, they do not have seats at the table when it comes to the most important decisions. The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg famously said: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” May she rest in power as her legacy and the work of so many of our fierce foremothers inspire women daily, like Shirley Chisholm who admonished, “if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” This is our call to action.