20 Female Senators: 4 Surprising Facts They Show About Women And Work

20 new senators

On Thursday, 20 women were sworn into the senate -- four more women than have ever served in the Senate in the entire history of the country. The winds of change were roaring in the U.S. Capitol, promising a future of greater collaboration, of more compromise, and of hearings on birth control that might actually allow a woman to speak.

In a group interview, Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) told ABC's Diane Sawyer that parents would bring their daughters up to her during the campaign and ask, " 'Can we get a picture? Can we get a picture?' Because people realize it and -- things do change, things do change."

But were the paths of these torchbearers at all different from those of their male colleagues? And does their ascent signal any larger change for politics, women and work? To better understand exactly what this change will look like, AOL Jobs took a closer look at our crop of female senators:

1. They're not all rich.

This may not sound extraordinary, but the majority of the men elected to the Senate are millionaires. In 2010, 67 percent of senators were millionaires, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Washington watchdog group, Center for Responsive Politics. Of the women of the 113th Congress, nine of the 20 did not hit the million mark, according to their financial disclosure forms.

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We put Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), in that camp even though we couldn't find her latest filings, because during the campaign she used "millionaire" like a curse word against her Republican opponent.

2. They're way more Democratic than the men.

Republicans make up 45 percent of the Senate, but just 5 percent of women senators. While slightly more American men identify as Democrats than Republicans according to a 2012 Pew poll (27 percent to 25 percent), that gap is an extraordinary 13 points for women (37 percent to 24 percent). This may or may not have something to do with clever Democratic strategy, differences on reproductive rights, or Republicans saying weird things about rape.

3. They're not part of the financier class.

A fifth of all the senators in the 112th Congress had a background in banking or business, according to a Congressional Research Services report, a number that has been creeping up over time. But Barbara Boxer is the closest that any of our female senators have come to a banking or business background, having spent a few years as a stockbroker to support her husband while he was in law school.

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So what route are they taking? It turns out, the traditional one. Half of the female lawmakers in our upper house have law degrees, even though the number of lawyers in the senate overall has been slipping for years, hitting 37 percent in the most recent Congress. The non-lawyers include two teachers (Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Patty Murray, D-Wash.), a journalist (Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.), a real estate agent (Mary Landrieu, D-La.), a social worker (Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.), and a cattle rancher (Deb Fischer, R-Neb.).

4. The business world is now far more male-dominated than Washington, D.C.

Women enjoyed another milestone a couple months ago, when they helmed a record 21 Fortune 500 companies. But that's just 4.2 percent. Which, obviously, is way worse than 20 percent. It seems that politics might actually be a more open place for women than the corporate world, despite the latter's touting of diversity programs and family friendly policies. After all, politics is democratic, and corporations are, well, definitely not.

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