Top 7 firsts in Women in US Politics

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

As I pointed out, it is all very nice that Hillary Clinton is the first American woman to be nominated as the standard-bearer for her party’s presidential bid, but 11 Muslim women have already served.

Women comprise 51% of the US population but they are only roughly 20% of Congress.

Only 14% of interviewees on Sunday news talk shows are women.

That said, it is a great moment for women’s rights in the US.

Here are some people who helped break through the glass ceiling over the decades:

Jeanette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress, from Montana in 1916. She later cast the lone vote against entering World War I.

Ophelia Wyatt Caraway, a Democrat from Arkansas, was the first woman elected to the US Senate, in 1932.

Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve as a cabinet secretary. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed her secretary of labor in 1933, and she made important contributions to social security and the New Deal.

Eugenie M. Anderson, who in 1949 became the first woman appointed a United States Ambassador. She was sent to Denmark by the Truman administration.

Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president, in 1984. She ran on the ticket with Walter Mondale.

Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson has become head of the U.S. Northern Command, the first woman to to serve as combatant commander.

Last week, July 2016, Carla Hayden became the first woman and the first African-American to serve as Librarian of Congress.

The United States’s constitution was a frontier experiment, aiming at representative govermtent. Only over time did its implied inclusivity become realized, even if very imperfectly. We came a step closer to that inclusivity today.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

PBS NewsHour: “Why it’s harder for women to run for office”

7 Responses

  1. Rankin did vote against entry to the First World War, but she was not the only one. She was the only member of Congress to vote against entering World War II. And only served two terms, 1917-19, 1941-3.

  2. Correction: Jeanette Rankin was one of 50 members of the House and 56 members of Congress to vote against US entry into WW I, according to her article in Wikipedia. Jeanette Rankin lost her next election. She eventually was re-elected to Congress just in time to cast the sole vote against the entry of the US into WW II, after which she lost the next election (to Mike Mansfield) and did not run again.

  3. It’s the heart that matters, what’s in one’s heart and the extent to which the individual follows her or his heart, their conscience, that matters, no matter gender, no matter race, no matter the labels of political affiliation. The indecent exposure to which we are all being exposed and subjected in the 2016 presidential campaign, I hope, makes that more clear than ever to the voters of this country. With that said, Green is the new Blue. Go Jill Stein!

  4. Actually, Theodora Nathalia “Tonie” Nathan was the first woman to receive an electoral vote as a female Vice Presidential candidate back in 1972 running with John Hospers on the Libertarian Party ticket.

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