[The Week] A brief history of women in Congress

Women now hold a record 20 percent of Senate seats and more than 18 percent of the House. Why not more? By The Week Editorial Staff | December 2, 2012

In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

How long has Congress had female members?
Women have served in Congress since suffrage activist Jeannette Rankin of Montana won a seat in 1916 — four years before women won the right to vote. The feminist movement of the 1960s brought in a new wave of congresswomen, including Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected, and Bella Abzug, one of the first to advocate gay rights. “Shirley and Bella were not what the male members of Congress had come to expect from a female colleague,” said former Rep. Catherine Dean May, who was first elected in 1959. “They got just as demanding and as noisy and as difficult as men did!” Still, women never made up much more than 2 or 3 percent of members until the watershed election of 1992, known as the Year of the Woman, when women’s representation doubled…

Read the rest of this post by The Week staff at http://theweek.com/article/index/236997/a-brief-history-of-women-in-congress

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