Tina Smith replaces Al Franken in Senate, marking record number of 22 female senators
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WATCH: The lieutenant governor from Minnesota will fill Al Franken's Senate seat.

There are a record number of women serving in the U.S. Senate now that Democrat Tina Smith, the former lieutenant governor of Minnesota, has been sworn in as a U.S. senator representing that state.

Smith’s addition to the Senate brings the total number of female senators to 22, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics.

There are 17 Democrats and five Republicans who make up the women serving in the Senate.

While today also marks the highest number of women serving in Congress overall, women still make up less than 20 percent of Congress.

“It’s is an important historical note but it’s also an important reminder of how far we still have to get to parity for women in American politics, particularly on the congressional level,” Rutgers political science professor Kelly Dittmar, who’s also a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics, said.

With Democrats Smith and Sen. Amy Klobuchar as the two senators from Minnesota, the Midwest state joins three other states represented by an all-female Senate delegation. California, New Hampshire and Washington are the three other states now with two female senators.

Only six states in the history of the Senate have had two female senators at the same time, with California being the first in 1993. But Klobuchar still remains the only woman Minnesotans have elected to the Senate.

A list of women that broke through barriers to enter the world of American politics.



Hillary Clinton was the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. Clinton also s... Photo Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

Dr. Carla Hayden is the first woman and the first African American to hold the post of librarian of Congress. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2016. She is the former chief executive officer of th... Photo Credit: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Gen. Lori Robinson became the first woman to lead a top-tier U.S. war-fighting command when she was appointed leader of the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. No... Photo Credit: Brennan Linsley/AP Photo
Janet Yellen is the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve. In 2014 President Obama appointed her for the position. She will remain as chairwoman until her term is up in 2018. As leader of America’s cent... Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Nancy Pelosi was elected as the first female speaker of the House in 2006 and served from 2007 to 2011. Pelosi is congratulated by her staff after the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act ... Photo Credit: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Madeleine Albright, the 64th secretary of state, was the first female to hold the office. At the time of her appointment, she was the highest-ranking woman in history of the U.S. government. She was nominated b... Photo Credit: Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
Janet Reno served as the first female attorney general of the United States from 1993 until 2001, and was nominated by President Bill Clinton. Reno is pictured here being sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Co... Photo Credit: Barry Thumma/AP Photo
Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential nominee of a major U.S. party when Walter Mondale won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984. From 1979-1985, she represented New York in the Hou... Photo Credit: Wally McNamee/Getty Images
Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1981, she was a key swing vote in many historic cases, including the upholding of Roe v. Wade. Pi... Photo Credit: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images
Shirley Chisolm was the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress in 1968. She was also the first African-American woman to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 1972, wh... Photo Credit: Don Hogan Charles/New York Times Co./Getty Images
Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving first lady of the United States. Roosevelt served as the first chair of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and... Photo Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Francis Perkins was an American sociologist and workers’ rights advocate. She became the first woman to hold a U.S. cabinet position when she was appointed secretary of labor by President Franklin D. Roos... Photo Credit: AP Photo
Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to hold federal office in the United States when she was elected to the House of Representatives by the state of Montana as a member of the Republican Party in 1916. Rankin ... Photo Credit: Matzene/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president from a nationally recognized ticket as the candidate of the Equal Rights Party in 1872. Photo Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Smith replaced former Sen. Al Franken, also a Democrat, who stepped down from his seat last month amid sexual misconduct allegations and a Senate Ethics Committee investigation. Vice President Mike Pence swore in Smith this afternoon at the U.S. Capitol.

A week after Franken’s Dec. 7 announcement that he would resign from the Senate, Smith was tapped by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, also a Democrat, to head to Washington. Franken left the Senate Tuesday.

Smith was already in Washington the week leading up to Christmas, participating in meetings.

Smith’s time in the Senate, however, may be temporary. She’ll serve until the winner of the November special election permanently replaces Franken. Her last day will be in January 2019, but Smith said she intends to run in the special election.

The Center for American Women and Politics has also been tracking potential female candidates in the upcoming midterm elections.

A record number of female candidates are expected to run in 2018 across all levels of office, professor Dittmar said, but particularly in Congress. Forty-six candidates are expected to run in the midterms for U.S. Senate, according to the center’s research.

In the lead up to Election Day 2018, however, women make up less than one-quarter the number of all potential candidates.

The more women there are in Congress and the greater the differences among them, “it will add more diversity to the agenda and to the conversation,” Dittmar said, adding that female senators’ life experiences differ from their male colleagues.

She pointed to the female congressional members who led the push against sexual assault in the military, sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, and the calls for Franken to step down as some examples of where women have made a difference.

Female congressional members are “raising issues that previously didn’t get the light of day,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., argued in an interview for the Center for American Women and Politics’ report published last year on the effects of having women in the U.S. Congress.

“Now there is a woman, at least one, on every Senate committee, and I think that’s helping,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told the Center for American Women and Politics.

“Again, not because we think alike, but women bring different perspectives, different life experiences, and that’s very healthy for an informed debate on issues.”