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United States of America
Women in decision-making positions

Government organization

The United States of America is a federal republic with three spheres of government: federal, intermediate (state), and local.

One tier of central government, one tier of intermediate government and one or two tiers of local government
Federal government
  • Head of State: The President is elected by an electoral college composed of electors appointed from each state.
  • Head of Government: The President is the Head of State and the Head of Government.
  • Legislative body: Congress is a bicameral legislature, with an upper house (the Senate) and a lower house (the House of Representatives). Members of Congress are directly elected by voters.
  • Executive body: The Cabinet is composed of the Vice-President and the heads of the executive departments, who are nominated and appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate.
State government
  • Legislative body: The state legislature/general assembly/general court is a bicameral legislature, with an upper house (the state senate) and a lower house (the state assembly/house of representatives/house of delegates).Members of the state legislature/general assembly/general court are directly elected by the voters of the state.
  • Executive body: The state governor, elected directly by voters of the state, is the executive at the state level of government.
Local government
  • Organization: Local government is organized into one or two tiers, consisting of: an upper tier of 3,031 county-level local government units (otherwise known as “boroughs” in the State of Alaska, or “parishes” in the State of Louisiana), and a lower tier of 35,879 municipal and township-level local government units.
  • Each of the five boroughs of New York City is coterminous with a county. There are also 40 consolidated city-counties, in which the municipal government is simultaneously responsible for both county and municipal functions in a single-tiered system of local government. Additionally, the District of Columbia is a municipal government under the direct supervision of Congress.
  • Competencies: Local government is responsible for issuing local ordinances and levying and collecting local taxes.
  • Ministerial oversight: at the state level

Overview of local government

Local government composition
County-level government

Deliberative body: The county board of commissioners/supervisors (or equivalent) is composed of elected members.

Executive body: The county executive (or equivalent) is the executive of the county level of government.

Municipal and township-level government

Deliberative body: The municipal council/town board (or equivalent) is composed of elected members.

Executive body: The mayor is the executive of the municipal/township level of government.

Local government elections
Electoral system

Electoral system for local deliberative bodies: plurality

  • A single individual with a plurality of votes wins an election and the seat for a given position or district. Second or third place finishers gain nothing and will be represented only if their party's candidates are successful in other districts.
  • Council races using the common at-large electoral structure allow voters to choose from candidates who run city-wide.  Candidates gaining the highest percentage of votes for each seat win that seat. Voters cast a single vote for their candidate - the highest total vote-getter wins election.

Electoral system for county executives/mayors: majority/plurality (first-past-the-post)

  • The county executive/mayor is elected directly by voters, on a separate ballot from the deliberative body.
  • Gender quotas: No
  • Additional quotas: No
Term of elections
  • Term length: varies by locality
  • Last local elections: varies by locality: 2021
  • Next local elections: varies by locality: 2022
Electoral management body

state election commission/board of elections


1. UN Women: Data on share of women in local government as of 1 January 2023.

2. UN Women: Information on Head of State and Government as of 3 October 2023.

3. Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU): Data on share of women in the single/lower chamber of parliament as of 1 January 2023.

4. IPU and UN Women: Data on share of women in ministerial positions as of 1 January 2023.

5. Information on local government organization as of 1 January 2021.