By Alina Selyukh | Reuters – Wed, Nov 7, 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A record number of women will serve in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives after sweeping victories in Tuesday’s election that challenged the traditional male makeup of the U.S. legislative branch.

Twenty women will serve in the 100-member Senate and at least 81 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives will be women. A few races still await final results from Tuesday’s voting.

Female representation in Congress has now been increased tenfold in the past two decades, according to Emily’s List, a liberal political group.

For several states, women won Senate seats for the first time, including in close races in Massachusetts, where Democrat Elizabeth Warren defeated Republican incumbent Scott Brown; in Nebraska, where Republican Deb Fischer upset former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey; and in Wisconsin, where another Democrat Tammy Baldwin also became the first openly gay senator.

A number of congressional districts will also be represented by women for the first time.

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