“Herstory” of Florida Women in Congress
The last time a woman represented Florida in the U.S. Senate was 1981 when the late Senator Paula Hawkins was elected and served until that year. Currently, there are two Republicans and 8 Democratic women representing Florida in the House of Representatives.
Florida women currently serving in the House of Representatives include:
- Kat Cammack (R) U.S. Representative 2021-present
- Maria E. Salazar (R) U.S. Representative 2021-present
- Val Demings (D) U.S. Representative 2017-present
- Stephanie Murphy (D) U.S. Representative 2017-present
- Lois J. Frankel (D) U.S. Representative 2013-present
- Frederica Wilson (D) U.S. Representative 2011-present
- Kathy Castor (D) U.S. Representative 2007-present
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) U.S. Representative 2005-present
Two men, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio currently represent Florida in the Senate.
In numbers, these Florida women represent two percent of the total 435 male and female representatives from the other 49 states.
Yet, Florida women are well known for their “firsts.” Take, for instance, Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry, the first black woman legislator who served four terms in her state.
Dorothy W. Glissen served as the first woman in Florida’s cabinet. Carrie P. Meeks was the first black woman elected to Congress from Florida.
Now with an increase in the number of women to represent their state, the possibilities of taking Congress by a storm can become a reality.
To quote Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, “I want women to be here in greater numbers at an earlier age so that their seniority [can] start to count much sooner.”
Nancy Pelosi is the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House.
The Effect of Women in Congress
Today’s women are massively more politically aware than women of previous generations. The median age of today’s 127 women in the current congress is 64 as compared to the average age of 42 for female entrepreneurs. Many women start a business after age 50 when children are grown.
There is a direct link between female entrepreneurs and women in Congress. For Floridian women elected to office, they find the same need for networking with constituents as they find in the business.
Florida women bring to Congress a fresh look at the needs of a state heavily invested in tourism, aerospace and aviation agriculture, finance, international trade, and fishing industries.
In terms of tourism, Florida ranks No. 3 after CA and HI. Florida recorded 126.1 million tourists in 2018 which is a 6.2% percent increase over the 118.8 million tourists in 2017.
Florida tourism pays a sizable share of the state’s sales tax. It is a desirable haven for retirees because it is one of few states with no personal income tax.
The Issue Florida Women in Congress Address
The most pressing issue for Florida women in Congress to address is that the median household income is $52,594 which is the 12th lowest nationally. Yet, the total revenue from the federal government Florida receives is $31.3 billion and it ranks 18th in states that receive the least.
Florida Women in Congress Strive for Balance
With minority women like Val Demings and Maria Salazar in Congress already serving their districts (27th and 10th districts respectively), both serve on House Committees that directly affect their state.
Salazar has worked with her party on immigration reform while Demings is the assistant House Whip to the Democratic Party Caucus and has sponsored or co-sponsored more than a half dozen legislative bills.
Another Florida Representative in Congress with high name value is Debbie Wasserman Schultz who has been at the forefront of legislation to fund support for victims of family violence and sexual assault for over a decade. She is the longest-serving of Florida woman in the House of Representatives since 2005.
Florida women in Congress have the greatest opportunity to bring their Floridian pride in their state to a pivotal and strong voice in the federal government.
Born and raised in Orlando, Nancy has seen and experienced various events that had happened. Because of that, she became involved with various political organizations in which do campaigns and education that will be for the good of the future.