Females in Congress: How far has America come?

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- In 1916, Jeannette Rankin of Montana made history as the first woman elected to Congress. Fast forward to 2016 and we have the first female major party nominee for President. But why did it take 100 years for that to happen?

“People seem to think that women can’t do it, can’t lead the country in a war time," Elizabeth Sanders a professor at Cornell University said.

Sanders said from World War I through the war on terror, the number of women in Congress would gradually rise, but then would level off or drop when war occurred. With US involvement in so many wars, progress has been slow. Today, the US ranks 96th in the world in the percentage of women in the legislature.

“It’s hard to break out of that," she added.

Since the day Jeannette Rankin stepped foot on Capitol Hill in 1917, just over 300 women have walked through this doors to represent their states.
Today, we have 84 women in the House and just 20 in the senate. Some lawmakers say that’s not nearly enough.

"We will be better governed when our legislative bodies look like America," Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin said.

Senators like Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska are strong supporters of more females taking over Capitol Hill. As for who the women they look up to?

"A former State Senator, Senator Arliss Sturgulewski," Sen. Murkowski said.

Sturgulewski made history herself as the first woman to head a major party ticket when she was the Republican candidate for Governor in 1986. Murkowski says, she inspired her both as a young woman and now as she is a Senator herself.

"She is involved in issues she cares not because of political persons but just because of her own personal passions she follows through with that and she’s been a great mentor and guide to me," Murkowski said.

The three women continue to be advocates for female representation in elected offices across the country and hope that in another 100 years the statistics will be much different.

Read the original version of this article at www.graydc.com.

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