The number of women elected to the House reached double digits for the first time in the 1979 election, when 10 women were elected.
In 1980, Jeanne Sauvé was appointed the first female Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons.
Although female representation in politics has increased since then, and political parties have identified increasing the number of female candidates as an organizational and political goal, no major Canadian political party to date has achieved gender parity in the number of candidates nominated for election.
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Two women, Sheila Copps and Anne Mc Lellan, have served as Deputy Prime Minister, although this is largely a ceremonial post with very little actual power.
Several women, including Mary Walker-Sawka, Rosemary Brown and Flora Mac Donald, had previously run for the leadership of federal political parties.
Federally, the 2015 election holds the record for the most female candidates in a single election, with 533 women running for office that year.
Prior to 2015, the record had been held by the 1993 election, an election which was unusual for a record number of smaller upstart parties running alongside the established ones — of the 476 female candidates that year, 76 of them ran for parties which had entirely ceased to exist by the time of the subsequent 1997 election, in which the number of female candidates retreated to 408.
As of 2017, 319 women overall have served in the House of Commons.
Of the major federal political parties, the New Democratic Party has nominated the most female candidates in every election since its creation, except in the 1962 election, when it tied with the Progressive Conservatives, and the 2008 election, when the Liberals nominated the most female candidates for the first time in their history.
Gender representation has been a significant issue in Canadian politics.
The first woman elected to the House of Commons of Canada was Agnes Macphail, in the 1921 election.
She became Prime Minister before the 1993 federal election by winning the leadership of the governing Progressive Conservatives, but lost the subsequent general election.
No woman has yet been elected Prime Minister of Canada in a general election.
Mac Donald unwittingly lent her name to a political phenomenon known as "Flora Syndrome" when even some of her own committed delegates at the Progressive Conservative leadership election, 1976 failed to vote for her, a loss of support which many commentators attributed to sexism.