Friday, September 17, 2010

TGIF - Today is Constitution Day.

According to, "The Constitutional Congress held it's final meeting on September 17, 1787. Do you have any idea why? That's right! It was to sign the Constitution of the United States of America, a document for which they so painstakingly labored to create and perfect.

After the meeting there was still much to do. Individual states then had to meet and vote on it. The U.S. Constitution did not go into effect until two years later on March 4, 1789."

At the risk of being obvious, I note that none of the original signers of The Constitution were women. That would certainly NOT be the case if this document were in play today.

Moreover, despite the groundbreaking nature of the Constitution, women's involvement in the national political scene has been slow in coming. Here are a few factoids to consider:

Since 1789, only 2 percent of members of Congress have been women. But not until 1917 was a woman elected to the House of Representatives. In the Senate, from 1922-2006, only 33 women have served in the Senate: 20 Democrats and 13 Republicans.

The global average percentage of women in parliaments is 17 percent; in the 110th Congress, it is 16 percent. (cite)

Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire & Vermont are the only states never to have a woman represent the state in either House of Congress.

  • 1872. Victoria Woodhull ran for president of the United States on the Equal Rights Party ticket. She is most famous for her declaration and campaign to run as the first woman for the United States Presidency in 1872. Many of the reforms and ideals espoused by her for the common working class against the corrupt rich business elite were extremely controversial in her time though generations later many of those implemented are now taken for granted. Other ideas and reforms still remain controversial and debated today.
  • 1917. The first woman elected to the U.S. House of representatives was Jeannette Rankin (R-MT). She served from 1917-1919 and from 1941-42. Sometimes called the "Lady of the House", Jeanette Rankin entered the House as the first woman in Congress.
  • 1922. The first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA). She served for one day; she was appointed, not elected.
  • Hattie Caraway became the first woman to win election to the Senate, in 1932.
  • 1933. Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet; she was Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • 1964. Margaret Chase Smith (ME) became the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for president at a major party convention; Sen. George Aiken nominated her at the Republican national convention.
  • 1968. Shirley Chisholm (NY) became the first black women to be elected to Congress.
  • 1976. Barbara Jordan (TX) became the first black women to deliver a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.
  • 1981. Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman on the Supreme Court.
  • 1984. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-NY) is the first woman on a major party's national ticket; she was selected by Walter F. Mondale as his Vice Presidential running mate.
  • 2007. The first woman to lead the House of Representatives is Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Throughout most of the Senate's history, it has been almost entirely male. Until 1920, few women ran for the Senate. Until the 1990s, very few were elected. This is due to many factors, including the lack of women's suffrage in many states until ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, women's limited access to higher education until the mid-1900s, public perceptions of gender roles, and barriers to women's advancement such as sex discrimination, which still play’s a factor in their limited numbers today.

No women served from 1922 to 1931, 1945 to 1947, and 1973 to 1978. Since 1978, there has always been at least one woman in the Senate.

I believe it is only a matter of time before women become a majority in politics. Maybe by then, some of the problems of our current system will be fixed.

Or as one of the greatest Women in our history stated:

"The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race. "

Susan B. Anthony

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