Women Are Breaking Barriers

Women are breaking barriers and forging new pathways. Michael Tackett of the New York Times reports that because they are dismayed by the direction the country is going and energized by the Women’s March in 2017 after Trump’s inauguration, women are running for office in record numbers. Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List, the largest national organization devoted to electing female candidates, reports that more women than ever before have contacted Emily’s List about running for office. Schriock notes that about a thousand women contacted Emily’s List in the year before the 2016 election, but in the twelve months since the election, twenty-two thousand women have contacted the organization. Here’s what we know at this point:

  • 11 women flipped seats in the Virginia House of Delegates race in November 2017. Their numbers included the first Latinas, the first Asian American woman, and the first transgender candidate in Virginia.
  • 354 female candidates are running for the United States House of Representatives in 2018, which is four times the number of women who ran in 2016. Twice as many women are running for the United States Senate in 2018 compared to 2016.
  • While the majority of the female candidates are Democrats, Republican women are also running in larger numbers than ever before.
When asked why they are running, many female candidates report that damage to the social safety net, threats to the Affordable Care Act, attacks on reproductive rights, and the recent flood of sexual harassment allegations, some against Trump himself, have motivated them to seek election. Tackett notes that, after all, both Republican and Democratic women know how it feels to be harassed. Women are running for local offices as well. Rick Rojas of the New York Times writes about a town council race in Greenwich, Connecticut, where women have taken a sudden interest in running for council seats. This race, which has previously had more seats available than candidates to fill them, currently has 270 people, 110 of whom are first-time candidates and over half of whom are women, running for 230 seats. Some of the women running explain that they were motivated by the Women’s March, where they heard the message “If you want to make a change, start locally.” One candidate explained that she couldn’t “be a bystander anymore.” The record number of women running for the United States Congress in 2018 even includes some veterans. Michael Tackett writes in the New York Times that Elaine Luria, Amy McGrath and Mikie Sherrill, all graduates of the United States Naval Academy, are trying to do something that “no female Annapolis graduate has ever accomplished: to win seats in Congress.” Luria commanded an assault ship with a crew of four hundred in the Persian Gulf, McGrath was the first female Marine to fly an F-18 fighter jet in combat, and Sherrill was a Navy helicopter pilot. The three were motivated to run after Trump’s election. Tackett notes that military credentials have always propelled men to office. We will see how these well-credentialed military women do. In another first, Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois and a veteran of the Iraq War who lost both of her legs in combat, will become the first United States senator to give birth while serving in the Senate. Matt Stevens of the New York Times reports that Senator Duckworth will be one of only ten women who have given birth while serving in Congress. This will be the senator’s second child. Her staff report that Duckworth, as a working mother, brings an “important” and “underrepresented” perspective to Congress, where she has sponsored legislation to support working mothers. Change is in the air. What changes are you seeing in your local elections?   Image courtesy of JIRCAS Library (CC BY 2.0)]]>