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The research presented here is long overdue, but it is just the beginning of our collective understanding of the experience of being both a legislator and a caretaker. While Vote Mama Foundation’s analysis focuses on the intersection of motherhood and political participation, it is our intention for this data to benefit all those working toward an equitable and accountable political system.

  • We evaluate representativeness  in terms of the population. We consider equitable representation to be achieved when the share of a demographic in a legislature is similar to that of the adult population in the United States. Unless specifically noted otherwise, all population-level statistics are derived from 2020 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year Estimate Public Use Microdata. 

    It is important to note that this definition is not intended to be a measure of ideal representation—it may not be enough to adequately center the needs of vulnerable populations or even provide protection from outright harms. Proportional representation should be our baseline, but it does not have to be our end goal.

  • Politics of Parenthood is a dataset of robust demographics for state and federal legislators. Variables include but are not limited to date elected to current office, education, previous occupation, age, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, ability status, parental status, age of youngest child, and caregiving status. 

    Data are collected through extensive monitoring of news and social media and build on the work of other organizations. Because the data relies on publicly available information, it is not infallible or exhaustive. However, to the knowledge of Vote Mama Foundation, it is the largest and most complete demographic dataset of legislators in the U.S.

    • All state legislators who use she/her or they/them pronouns in office as of August 2022

    • All members of the 118th Congress as of April 2023.

  • Mamas are cis and trans women with biological children, foster children, step-children, and formally or informally adopted children under the age of 18. We also refer to mamas interchangeably as moms of minor kids or mothers of minor children. Though our research focus is on the political participation of mamas, the dataset includes parental status for all included legislators, regardless of their gender or the age of their youngest child.


of state legislators are mamas (kids <18)


total state legislators


mamas in state legislature


mamas needed to reach proportional representation

#1: Oregon


75% of  women and nonbinary state legislators are mothers, but only 16.9% of women state legislators have minor children. In the United States as a whole, 85% of women have children by age 45, and 34.8% of all adult women have minor children. Consequently, moms with young children are represented in state legislatures at less than half the rate they appear in the population, despite the fact that mothers in general are relatively close to full representation.


This data suggests that the lack of representation of moms with minor children is the result of structural marginalization rather than individual circumstances or preferences. Further, it suggests that moms of young children face barriers that are unique, or intensified, compared to women and mothers of adult children.