When Women Lead

Women's Environmental Voting Records in Congress, 1972-2023
In 2024, women hold a record 151 seats in Congress. Despite major gains in the past decade, women are still significantly underrepresented in federal policymaking. By some estimates, it could take over a century at the current rate for our legislature to achieve equal representation.

Statistics conveyed by organizations like the Center for American Women in Politics and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research highlight this disparity: women comprise roughly 51 percent of the population and 53 percent of the electorate but only 28 percent of Congress. Women of color currently hold 12 percent of seats in Congress despite comprising roughly 20 percent of the country’s population.

Women are not the only constituency impacted by unequal representation—our entire policymaking process suffers.

Since 2000, Rachel’s Network has made the case that gender disparity in government not only stymies equality, it has serious implications for environmental policy as well.


Research in the European Journal of Political Economy found that female representation in national legislatures leads countries to adopt more stringent climate change policies. 91 countries were included in the study.

Similarly, a 2019 study in the Journal of Environmental Politics, a 2019 study in the Review of Policy Research, and a 2022 study in the European Journal of Political Research found that women were more likely to support environmental legislation than men.

In previous iterations of our report When Women Lead (in 2003 and 2011), we analyzed the voting records of federal legislators going back to 1983 using League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Environmental Scorecard data. We found that women in Congress vote for legislation supporting clean air, clean water, renewable energy, climate action, and public health much more often than their male counterparts (and similarly vote more often against legislation that would roll back these protections).

This update brings our analysis up to the present, looks further into the past, and includes demographic breakdowns by race and ethnicity. After comparing annual LCV scores each year from 1972-2023, we found that women legislators—especially women of color legislators—vote for environmental protections more often than their male counterparts in both the House and Senate.

Climate change, pollution, food and energy justice, chemical safety, and biodiversity loss have become urgent global concerns that threaten lives and livelihoods in the US. If we want to make progress on protecting the environment and public health, we should help elect more women—especially women of color—to public office, and support them during their tenure.

Women’s Environmental Voting Records in the House of Representatives


In the US House of Representatives, women have had higher average environmental scores in every year that LCV has kept records. Women’s average annual score from 1972-2023 is 69 while men’s is 46.

Women of color have the highest combined average annual LCV score of any demographic group in the House at 82 (see race and ethnicity breakdown here).

Within each political party, the gender discrepancy persists, although it’s less pronounced and shrinking in recent years. The average scores of Democratic women surpass those of Democratic men in nearly every year since 1972 and their average is much higher: 88 vs 70. Since 2003, the scores of Republican women in the House have roughly tracked Republican men’s scores, but their overall average since 1972 is 22 compared to men’s 19.

Women with Perfect Environmental Scores in the House in 2023

Alma Adams (NC), Nanette Barragán (CA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Shontel Brown (OH), Nikki Budzinski (IL), Cori Bush (MO), Kathy Castor (FL), Judy Chu (CA), Katherine Clark (MA), Yvette Clarke (NY), Jasmine Crockett (TX), Madeleine Dean (PA), Rosa DeLauro (CT), Suzan DelBene (WA), Debbie Dingell (MI), Veronica Escobar (TX), Anna Eshoo (CA), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Valerie Foushee (NC), Sylvia Garcia (TX), Chrissy Houlahan (PA), Valerie Hoyle (OR), Sara Jacobs (CA), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Robin Kelly (IL), Ann Kuster (NH), Barbara Lee (CA), Susie Lee (NV), Summer Lee (PA), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Doris Matsui (CA), Jennifer McClellan (VA), Betty McCollum (MN), Grace Meng (NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Deborah Ross (NC), Andrea Salinas (OR), Linda Sanchez (CA), Mary Scanlon (PA), Mikie Sherrill (NJ), Elissa Slotkin (MI), Melanie Stansbury (NM), Haley Stevens (MI), Marilyn Strickland (WA), Emilia Sykes (OH), Dina Titus (NV), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Jill Tokuda (HI), Norma Torres (CA), Lori Trahan (MA), Lauren Underwood (IL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Nikema Williams (GA), and Frederica Wilson (FL)

Women’s Environmental Voting Records in the Senate


Just as in the House of Representatives, women’s annual average LCV score in the Senate since 1972 is higher than men’s overall (68 vs 45) and within each party (D: 87 vs 71; R: 28 vs 20).

Year by year, the picture is more complicated, primarily because comparatively few women—and even less women of color—have served in the Senate. From 1973-1977, no women served at all, and until 1991, only 1 or 2 women served at any one time. To put it another way, pre-1991 averages account for the scores of 98-99 men vs 1 or 2 women. The large swings in LCV scores in earlier years are partly due to this small sample size. Meanwhile, only seven women of color have served in the Senate in its entire history. Women of color have the highest combined average annual LCV score of any demographic group in the Senate at 93.

Women with Perfect Environmental Scores in the Senate in 2023

Tammy Baldwin (WI), Laphonza Butler (CA), Maria Cantwell (WA), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Mazie Hirono (HI), Tina Smith (MN), and Elizabeth Warren (MA)

“We’ve got to get more women to run. We need to be strategic and identify women to run in open seats at every level of leadership. And once those women are recruited, we need to make sure that they have the support, financial and otherwise, to be successful.”

Debbie Walsh, Director, Center for American Women and Politics

About Rachel’s Network

Rachel’s Network is a community of women at the intersection of environmental advocacy, philanthropy, and leadership. Our mission is to promote women as impassioned leaders and agents of change dedicated to the stewardship of the earth.

About Rachel’s Action Network

Rachel’s Action Network (RAN), is a national 501(c)4 dedicated to leveraging women’s philanthropy to advance strong environmental policies and promote women policy and political leaders.


When Women Lead uses the following datasets:

1. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Scorecard, which compiles federal legislator votes on bills including clean air and water, energy, climate change, environmental justice, public health, public lands and wildlife conservation, democracy, worker protection, and spending for environmental programs (methodology here).
2. The Center for American Women & Politics (CAWP) tally of Women Officeholders by Race and Ethnicity (methodology here).
3. the @unitedstates project, a shared commons of data and tools for the United States.

Complete this form to request the compiled data that was used in this report.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons; Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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