It didn’t exactly break the glass ceiling, but Tuesday’s election broke a number of barriers for women.
Women now hold a record number of seats in the U.S. Senate. All of 20. Out of 100.
Still, in the last 10 years that’s an increase of 40 percent. In 1992, only two women served in the Senate.
This year’s election also placed the first openly gay woman in office. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was elected to the Senate. Baldwin had served as a state representative since 1999. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin law school, Baldwin has held elective office since 1986.
So, neither Baldwin’s sexual preference nor her entry to national politics came as a surprise to Wisconsin voters. She’s been a strong advocate for health care reform and would like to see the current system do away with insurance companies. A single-payer system, much like Medicare, would eliminate all the bargaining chips individual insurance companies use to lure customers.
Baldwin’s a strong supporter of the Violence Against Women Act, which fights for prosecution against sexually related crimes. I don’t imagine she has much patience for people who use terms such as “legitimate rape” — Missouri’s Todd Akin — or that pregnancy from rape can be “God’s will” — Indiana’s Richard Mourdock.
Mazie Hirino is another barrier-breaker. She is the first Asian-American female to be elected to Congress. The first Buddhist to be elected to the Senate, though she claims to be non-practicing. And the first U.S. Senator to be born in Japan.
She attended Georgetown University Law Center and was inducted into the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
For the past 20 years she has served in elective office. She was Hawaii’s lieutenant governor from 1994 to 2002 and has served as a representative in Congress since 2007, winning a second and third term with 76 percent and 72 percent of the vote, respectively.
RIGID OLE New Hampshire — it’s not called the granite state for nothing — elected an all-female delegation to Congress as well as a female governor, Maggie Hassan. It’s the first state in the nation to have all women represent itself in Congress.
And our next door neighbor, Claire McCaskill won a nasty race against Akin, the man who also said a woman can make her body “shut down” and not get pregnant in cases of rape. OMG.
Almost half of the 33 Senate races this week had female candidates, a huge surge from previous years.
In the House of Representatives, 77 will be women, including Kansas’ Lynn Jenkins. Of those 77, 57 are Democrats.
The outcome? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But maybe we’ll see equal pay. Today, women still earn 77 percent of men’s earnings.
Polls show there’s not that big of a difference between men and women on what they regard as important issues.
Righting the economy ranks top among both sexes, followed by jobs, health care and education.
That said, men and women felt differently about who would make the best president. Overall, Obama’s lead with women was a 10-percent margin over Mitt Romney.
THE ELECTION of these women is a growing sign of confidence not in the female sex, but that a person’s sex doesn’t make a difference to her ability to lead.
Stay connected to the stories and events that make your community a special place to call home.
Subscriptions start at $14.90/month.View subscription options
- Unmatched coverage of Allen County’s local news and sports, a tradition dating back to 1867
- Compelling portraits of our residents, experienced reporting and thoughtful analysis
- Unlimited online access to iolaregister.com and our archives