Hillary Clinton losing the White House wasn’t the only disappointment for certain American voters this week. Women also didn’t make any gains in Congress.
After the election Tuesday, the number of women in both chambers remained stuck at 104. That means women make up 19% of Congress overall, a figure that puts the U.S. at about 97th out of 193 countries worldwide in terms of women’s parliamentary representation; in the same territory as Kenya and Kyrgyzstan, according to figures compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The woeful underrepresentation of women in politics generally is attributable to several factors. The Pew Research Center chalks it up to pushback from voters who are not ready to elect women to leadership roles and women’s lack of connections and party support. A New York Times story last month, meanwhile, blamed it not on women’s failure to get elected—their odds of winning are nearly equal to men’s—but on their unwillingness to run in the first place. The story cited the so-called ambition gap as a culprit in keeping women out of the political pipeline. Research says women are less likely to be pushed by parents, teachers or party leaders to run, and they are also less likely to run without being encouraged.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown—who became the first openly LGBT governor elected to office Tuesday—says she got into politics after a state senator prodded her to do so. “I honestly hadn’t considered anything like that until someone called and asked,” she told the Times. “That’s what it took, and that’s what it takes for women: calling and encouragement.”