RNC Speakers by the Numbers

With the presidential election now in full swing, the Ms. Blog is excited to bring you a series presented in conjunction with Presidential Gender Watch 2016, a project of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation and the Center for American Women and Politics. They’ll be tracking, analyzing and illuminating gender dynamics during election season—so check back with us regularly!

Last Friday, we did a preliminary count of the Republican National Convention’s speakers by gender, finding that women were 32 percent of announced speakers. However, by our count, there were 105 speaking slots over the RNC’s four days, not counting invocations, benedictions, or narrative videos. Of those 105 speakers, 29–or 28 percent–were women; 76–or 72 percent–were men.

Seven of the 29 female speakers–or 24 percent–were currently elected women, and one more–Linda Lingle– is the former Governor of Hawaii. Elected officials were better represented among the men who spoke at the RNC; 33 of 76 male speakers – or 43 percent – are currently holding elected office. Two other men who spoke held previous elected office. This is not terribly surprising if you look at the gender disparities among Republican elected officeholders nationwide. Just 17 percent of Republican state legislators, 10 percent of Republican governors, and 9 percent of Republican members of Congress are women.

Gender disparities persist in how long men and women were at the convention podium. Of about 13.5 hours of speaking, just over 10 hours was occupied by male speakers at the RNC; women’s spoke for just under 3.5 hours – 24 percent of the total speaking time – across the convention’s four days. If Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s acceptance speeches – totaling one hour and 52 minutes – are removed from the calculations, men spoke about 72 percent of the time, matching their representation among speakers overall.

Stay tuned as we track gender differences in number of speakers and speaking time at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia!


Kelly Dittmar is an assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University and a scholar at the Center for American Women in Politics. Find her on Twitter @kdittmar.