A Gendered Breakdown of the 2016 Democratic Convention Speakers

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!

Now that the Democratic National Convention has closed, we looked back to identify gender differences in total speakers and speaking time. In this post, we also compare the gender parity in convention voices between the DNC and RNC, finding that women were seen and heard more at the Democrat’s convening.

Copyright Jenny Warburg
Copyright Jenny Warburg

By our count, there were 236 speakers over the DNC’s four days, not counting invocations, benedictions, or narrative videos. Ten individuals spoke twice, but were counted as one. Of those 236 speakers, 119 – or 50.4 percent – were women; 117 – or 49.6 percent – were men. In comparison, women were just 26.1 percent of the 111 speakers at the RNC.




Forty-nine of the 119 female DNC speakers – or 41 percent – were currently elected women, and four more were formerly elected women. Elected officials were better represented among the men who spoke at the DNC; 62 of 117 male speakers – or 53 percent – are currently holding elected office. Twelve other men who spoke held previous elected office.

Just eight elected women, and one formerly elected woman, spoke at the RNC, representing a smaller proportion of women speakers (26 percent) than the DNC slate. The proportion of elected officials among the RNC’s male speakers was also lower (43 percent) than at the DNC, but higher than among their female counterparts.

While men and women were equally split in number among DNC speakers, there are differences in how long men and women were at the convention podium. Of about 21.5 hours of speaking time, just over 12 hours was occupied by male speakers at the DNC; women’s spoke for slightly over nine hours – 43 percent of the total speaking time – across the convention’s four days. The gender disparities in speaking time can be accounted for, in part, by the dominance of men among the individuals who spoke the longest. While Hillary Clinton spoke for about one hour, the next four longest speeches were given by men: President Barack Obama (50 minutes), former President Bill Clinton (44 minutes), Senator Tim Kaine (33 minutes), and Senator Bernie Sanders (33 minutes).

The gender disparities in speaking time were greater at the RNC, where women spoke for just 24 percent of the total time; even excluding the nominees (Trump and Pence), 72 percent of the speaking time was given to men.


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.