Why does the US lag behind the rest of the world in women in government?

I have a feeling it has something to do with this:

Ah Janet Reno, who did her job and didn’t hire a fashion consultant to spruce her up for our juvenile, prurient, malicious demands of women on the television.

Hilary Clinton, Condeleeza Rice, Madeline Albright, Nancy Pelosi,

Yes, in the US we have a few women leaders, A few. We still do not have a president. But we’ve had cabinet members and a House Majority Leader and now several Supreme Court justices.

It has been nearly a hundred years since women were given the right to vote and participate as equal citizens in the US. And what do we have to show for it?

The following diagram comes from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers. This shows the order from most to least representation of women in state legislature for each of the 50 states. I am open to engaging in some psychological hypothesizing about why Utah, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Mississippi are ranked so low. But my own opinions aside, there clearly is a problem in those communities supporting and encouraging women to assume positions of power. Don’t the women in Alabama want their interests represented better? Don’t they think they can legislate for themselves?

from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers


Currently:     Ireland,      Finland,      Switzerland,      Liberia,     India,      Argentina,      Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan,      Costa Rica,       Brazil,    and     Kosovo      have women heads of state.

And then there’s the supremely embarrassing list of countries who have ever had women heads of state, which includes Mongolia, China, Argentina, Bolivia, Iceland, Guinea-Bissau, Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, UK, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Liberia – again!, Ecuador, Latvia, Panama, Indonesia, Chile, Israel, Gabon, … So basically there is no excuse. This list contains wealthy and impoverished countries, industrialized and more traditional, religious and cosmopolitan. No excuse.

We have an excellent education system in which women participate equally, even statistically excelling against their male counterparts through college. But then they hit the real world and the real world in the US must suck for women.

“Amendment XIX

(Ratified August 18, 1920)

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

The Univeristy of Illinois has a great page summarizing Women’s Milestones in US Government:

    • 1766Mary Katherine Goddard and her widowed mother 
      become publishers of the Providence Gazette newspaper and the annual West’s Almanack, making her the first woman publisher in America.In 1775, Goddard became the first woman postmaster in the country (in Baltimore), and in 1777 she became the first printer to offer copies of the Declaration of Independence that included the signers’ names. In 1789 Goddard opened a Baltimore bookstore, probably the first woman in America to do so.
    • 1872Victoria Claflin Woodhull becomes the first woman presidential candidate in the United States when she is nominated by the National Radical Reformers.
    • 1879 – Belva Ann Lockwood becomes the first woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
      And she’s got a stamp!!!
    • 1887 – Susanna Medora Salter becomes the first woman elected mayor of an American town, in Argonia, Kansas
    • 1916 – Jeannette Rankin, of Montana, is the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. 
    • 1922 – Rebecca Felton, ofGeorgia, is appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a temporary vacancy. The first woman senator, she serves for only two days.
    • 1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross becomes the first woman to serve as governor of a state, in Wyoming. In the fall of 1924 she was elected to succeed her deceased husband, William Bradford Ross. (Miriam Amanda “Ma” Ferguson is inaugurated governor of Texas days later.)
    • 1932 – Hattie Wyatt Caraway, of Arkansas, becomes the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. 

    • 1933 – Frances Perkins is appointed secretary of laborbyPresident Franklin D. Roosevelt, making her the first woman member of a presidential cabinet.
    • 1960 – Oveta Culp Hobby becomes the first woman to serve as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. She is also the first director of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), and the first woman to receive the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal.
    • 1964 – Margaret Chase Smith, of Maine, becomes the first woman nominated for president of the United States by a major political party, at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco.
      I just seriously love the stamps!
    • 1965 – Patsy Takemoto Mink, of Hawaii, is the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress.She served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years.
    • 1969 – Shirley Chisholm, of New York, becomes the first African-American woman in Congress and the first female black U.S. Representative.Her motto is, “Unbought and unbossed.” She served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years.
    • 1972 – Juanita Kreps becomes the first woman director of the New York Stock Exchange.She later becomes the first woman appointed Secretary of Commerce.

  • 1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is appointed by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, making her its first woman justice.
  • 1989 – Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida, becomes the first Hispanic woman elected to congress.She serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • 1990 – Dr. Antonia Novello is sworn in as U.S. Surgeon General, becoming the first woman (and first Hispanic) to hold that job.
  • 1991 – On January 2, Sharon Pratt Dixon is sworn in as mayor of Washington, DC, becoming the first black woman to serve as mayor of a major city.
  • 1992 – Carol Moseley-Braun, of Illinois, becomes the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
  • 1993 – Sheila Widnall becomes the first secretary of a branch of the U.S. military when she is appointed to head the Air Force.
    Janet Reno becomes the first woman U.S. attorney general. 

  • 1997 – Madeleine Albright is sworn in as U.S. secretary of state.She is the first woman in thisposition as well as the highest-ranking woman in the United States government.
  • 2005 – Condoleezza Rice becomes the first African-American female Secretary of State
  • 2007 – Nancy Pelosi became the 60th Speaker of the House, and thefirst woman to hold the position. And to-date has been the highest-ranking female politician in American history.

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