Meredith College Releases 2021 Status of Women in North Carolina Politics Report

Meredith College has released a new report examining women as voters and officeholders in North Carolina. The 2021 Status of Women in North Carolina Politics report, released on November 4, is an update on reports the College previously produced in 2015 and 2018.

Professor of Political Science David McLennan, who produced the report, said at the national level, the current status of women in politics “a mixed bag,” with more women in Congress and the first woman elected vice president, while the number of women governors has declined.

In North Carolina, women have lost ground in some key areas.

Women make up 51 percent of the population in the state and almost 50.3 percent of the voters in North Carolina.  Despite the persistent demographic advantage, women have always been underrepresented in appointed and elected offices in North Carolina. In some urban areas around the state, women are the majority of elected officeholders. In other areas of the state, particularly in some rural areas east of I-95 and west of I-85, women officeholders are much rarer. There are city councils, county boards of commissioners, and school boards without any women at the table. 

“Since the last Status of Women in North Carolina Politics report in 2018, there have been some modest gains for women,” McLennan said. “Fewer appointed boards and commissions lack women’s voices, more women serve as judges, and the  General Assembly has the most women serving in its history.” 

This report not only documents the situation for women as voters, candidates, appointed officials, and elected officials in North Carolina, but it provides more analysis of factors that contribute to this continued underrepresentation. New analysis in this report reveals that: 

  • Black women and women of color are significantly underrepresented, as compared to their white counterparts,  especially in suburban areas of the state. 
  • Fundraising in competitive races is not a reason why women candidates lose. 
  • The type of electoral district—at large vs. district—is a key factor in electing women generally and Black women and women of color specifically. 


“This report, like its predecessors, is meant to be a wake-up call for North Carolina politics,” said McLennan. “As we strive to be a  truly representative democracy, women, who are a majority of the state’s citizens, need a bigger place at the political table.”

Read the full report

Learn more at

The Status of Women in North Carolina Politics report is part of Meredith College’s commitment to being a leading source of information on women’s issues in the state.


Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330