Forget the Gender Gap: GOP Backs All Male Chairmen

When it would seem that the Republicans had learned that the right could no longer be perceived as ignoring women, we learn today that all of the House chairmanships will be men. While the U.S. House chairmanships are primarily selected based on seniority, would it not be beneficial to the party to include a few women? The last time we had an all-male panel, the result was … wait for it … Sandra Fluke.

Studies have indicated that some blocks of women voters were not with us [in the last election]. … We’ve got to be more inclusive and I hope that our leadership gets that message and I think they will.

~ Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the only woman to lead a full House committee in the current Congress

Fortunately, Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers will be Chair of the Republican Conference. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the RNC’s Women’s Summit in 2009, when she was beginning to rise in the ranks of the party. She is a true asset to the GOP, and a wonderful spokesman for the ideals the party represents. Rep. Rodgers will be the fourth ranking person in the House, and the highest-ranking woman overall.

In addition, the Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman will be Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, and the Conference Secretary will be Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.

While I do not support affirmative action in the sense of promoting someone simply due to their gender or race, we have many experienced women in the U.S. House who could fill chairmanships easily. This is politics, after all, and the optics, messaging and perception all matter greatly. There are 20 female Republicans in the House, including several who have wielded great power:

  • Michele Bachmann – MN
  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers – WA
  • Lynn Jenkins – KS
  • Kristi Noem – SD
  • Virginia Foxx – NC
  • Marsha Blackburn – TN
  • Sue Myrick – NC
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – FL

These are just to name a few.

While there are still two committees without chairmen, a total of zero women serve on those committees, making it unlikely that a woman would become chairman of either of those committees (the Committee on House Administration and the Committee on House Ethics).

The Republican Party must stop being blind to the optics of what it does. There are qualified women who serve in the U.S. House, and if the GOP wants to begin to close the gender gap they must avoid this:

The all-male Oversight and Government Reform Committee panel (Feb. 2012)

Which resulted in this:

Sandra Fluke

Which helped make this possible:



  1. I know Slate was already drumming about this yesterday before the final selections had been made and probably many more liberal media will keep drumming about this. It was a missed opportunity. I don’t think rewarding seniority without out achievement or goals is particularly useful. Based on GOP showing in the last election, maybe it’s time to mix up the leadership a bit and get some fresh ideas.

  2. Sara Marie,

    I, too, was just amazed when I heard that not one GOP woman would be heading up any of the 19 House committees. Didn’t our leadership (I’m talking to you Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor) learn anything from the recent election in which there was a HUGE gender gap favoring President Obama? Granted, there’s only 20 Republican women in the House compared to 61 Democratic women, but we have many talented women in that small group of 20. None of them have leadership ability??? Really Speaker Boehner? Ironically, for 9 of these committees the leading Democrat on the committee will be a woman.

    For our party to survive we have got to diversity…women, Hispanics, blacks, gays, young people. By 2040 whites will be a minority in our country. Being a party of just white people will doom us to be the minority party for years to come. The only thing saving us is gerrymandering of U.S. House seats, and that will only last until the next census in 2020. Nationwide Democratic House candidates in the most recent election received over a million more votes than GOP candidates. They would be controlling the House starting in January if it wasn’t for gerrymandering which our party controlled. This is true not only of the U.S. House, but also of state legislatures across the country. We have to broaden our appeal outside the white male population.

  3. I wish I could say I was surprised or shocked, but I’m not. After the debacle…I mean, the ELECTION…we all saw all the finger-pointing and heard all the blame being assessed to everyone from Governor Romney to Reince Priebus to the people who were working at the polls. And maybe that’s the problem. WE heard all this, but the people who work in Washington weren’t listening. Here we are, again with a Republican-controlled Congress, a Democratic-controlled Senate and a President who believes he still needs to be on the campaign trail (#MYY2K anyone?), and nothing is going to change. Somewhere along the line, we hit the summit and have started the decline down the mountain. It’s a slippery slope.


  1. […] this week, The Brenner Brief reported on the all male GOP committee chairmen in the U.S. House of Representatives, and our concern about […]

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