But while Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), has the inside track on the Republican Conference chairmanship, Bachmann’s bid illustrates a long running problem for the House GOP – despite electoral gains in the lower ranks, women have had virtually no success penetrating the inner circle of the Republican congressional hierarchy…

But the gender numbers are still startling: There are 56 female Democrats in the current Congress and there will be 51 in the new House. There are just 17 Republican women in the House, with at least seven joining the new majority – only about 10 percent of the Republican Conference. There will be one female GOP House chairman in the new Congress, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and one woman in the leadership ranks – Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who will keep the no. 5 slot as vice chairman. In the Senate the record isn’t much better-Lisa Murkowski, the only woman in Senate Republican leadership, was ousted from the hierarchy last month.

“John Boehner doesn’t have a problem [with women in the House]. He has a challenge. The Republican Conference needs to look more like America,” said former Ohio Rep. Deborah Pryce, who served as Republican conference chair. “There are a lot of competent women who have potential, opportunity. They can serve in elected leadership, as chair of a committee or subcommittee, as an adviser, etcetera.”