No matter who you plan to vote for in this presidential election, there is no denying the monumental achievement that we Americans have experienced. This is the first time in American history that a woman has been nominated by a MAJOR party and the first time that there is a significant possibility that a woman could be elected as our country’s leader.
It needs to be noted that two women have been major party Vice-Presidential Nominees, Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008; neither was elected to office.
There have been other women who have run (unsuccessfully) for president on Independent and Third-party lines, or have not won the final Major Party nod: Victoria Woodhull ran in 1872 and again in 1892; Belva Lockwood ran in 1884 and 1888; Laura Clay ran in 1920; comedian Grace Allen got write-in votes in 1940; Margaret Chase Smith was considered for nomination by the Republican party in 1964 but did not win the nomination; Charlene Mitchell was the first African-American woman nominated in 1968.
1972 was a busy year with Shirley Chisholm, Patsy Takemoto Mink (first Asian American woman), and Bella Abzug as potential Democratic nominees in 1972; Linda Osteen Jenness and Evelyn Reed also ran as a third-party candidates in 1972; Ellen McCormack ran in 1976 (potential Democratic nominee) and in 1980 for a third-party; Margaret Wright in 1976; Deidre Griswold and Maureen Smith in 1980; Sonia Johnson and Gavrielle Holmes in 1984; Isabelle Masters ran in 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004; and Lenora Fulani in 1988 and in the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 1992.
We’ve come a long, long way…
When I was married in 1975 I was not given a choice what last name I would be using, it was an automatic practice that a woman adopt her husband’s last name (I am very proud to be Mrs. “E”). I was pleasantly astounded when my daughter, in 2007, was filling out the paperwork for her marriage license and I noticed all of the options; women now can retain their own last names, combine with their husband’s, or take the husband’s name as I did — and the husband has similar options including taking his wife’s surname.
I also remember that I had a credit card prior to my marriage; after being married I requested a card for my new husband. The card was promptly cancelled and I called to ask why; the reason I was given was that a married woman had to have the card under her husband’s credit and permission (there were no standards against credit gender-discrimination at that time).
Other real differences that have happened in the past decades include the firing of pregnant women (as happened to a relative of mine in the early 70s), no such thing as paternity leave, and the right to refuse a female access to certain jobs. There are still more advancements to be made but it is a very different world since my own young adult years.
There are currently 26 countries with female heads-of-state and others who have had women in charge in recent years. This is the closest that the United States of America has come to having a woman leading our country. While your vote this November and the outcome should be based on merit and capability, this very significant milestone should be celebrated by all as to how far we have come.