Women in the U.S. government

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Women in the U.S. government

Sophie Cohan, Feature Section Editor

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After the recent elections for Congress and the Senate, there is now a record number of women in government positions. Not only have they broken numerical records, there are several individual candidate firsts from this election. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim women to be in the House of Representatives, and they also managed to win a vote allowing religious head wear on the floor for the first time in 181 years; Tennessee has its first female senator, Marsha Blackburn; Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids are now the first Native American members of Congress; Nancy Pelosi, the first and only female Speaker of the House and highest-ranking woman in American political history, has been re elected; and Kyrsten Sinema became not only Arizona’s first female senator but also the first openly bisexual senator in U.S. history.

The U.S. has a long history of having a primarily male government. Women did not get the right to vote until August 18, 1920, with the creation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Jeannette Pickering Rankin, a women’s rights advocate, was the first woman to hold a government office when she was elected into the House of Representatives in 1916 and again in 1940. No women were elected into the Senate until 1932, with Hattie Caraway of Arkansas. It would be another 60 years before an African-American woman would be elected in 1992, Carol Moseley Braun.

President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court in 1981, making her the first woman to serve in that position. Since then, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated by President Bill Clinton, and President Barack Obama nominated both Sonia Sotomayor and and Elena Kagan. All of these women still serve on the Supreme Court except for Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired in 2006, after 25 years of hard work.

The United States has a long past of a largely white, patriarchal government. However, it seems that a new era of a more diverse leadership is on the way.

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