Women lose ground in Congress for 1st time since 1978
Posted by James McPherson on November 18, 2010
It’s official. Even if Ann Marie Buerkle holds on to her narrow lead in New York, and despite the stunning write-in victory of Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, with the concession of Melissa Bean in Illinois, Congress will see a net loss in the number of female members for the first time since Rosalynn Carter was first lady.
It will also be the first decrease since a year after Indiana became the 35th and last state to ratify the failed Equal Rights Amendment (though one of the fears used to kill the ERA has come to fruition, anyway–we now do have women soldiers being killed in battle).
The United States has a dismal record overall on the percentage of women in its national leadership, ranking about 70th among the world’s nations and trailing such countries as Cuba, Afghanistan and Rwanda. Thirty-one of the 192 U.N. member nations have women at the head of their governments: 10 presidents, 11 prime ministers and three queens.
Of course, the pitiful lack of women in U.S. political leadership merely reflects our record elsewhere in American society. Despite some high-profile gains, with gender–as with race–we obviously have some distance to go.