Let’s Celebrate Women History Month

Congressman Elise Stefanik
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is chair of the House Republican Conference

What a great time to be a woman in America. Women have made great strides in this country to be on equal footing with our male counterparts. We all know of the hard work accomplished and sacrifices made by many women to help us achieve a greater parity. Much of that hard work culminated on March 3, 1913, when 8,000 women gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Women’s Suffrage Parade demanding a constitutional amendment for the right to vote. We won that right when the 19th Constitutional Amendment was ratified on August 26, 1920.  In celebration of Women’s History Month, let us take a look at how far we have come in our collective career successes.

Consider some of these statistics. Girl Power Marketing reports that women account for 85% of all consumer purchases, including 80% of the healthcare spending, and 91% of new home sales. And, women own 40% of all private businesses.

Women are not only commanding the purse strings, but more women are completing their educations than ever before.  Moreover, we are being educated in greater numbers than men.  We also know that women outpace men in all levels of education by attaining more degrees.  According to Pew Research, women made up 60% of graduating college students. Additionally, women are less likely to drop out of high school and college in the first place.

Within public service, the numbers are inspiring and encouraging.  In 1971, just 3% of Congress comprised of women. In 2021 (only, the Center for American Women and Politics states that 27.6% of Congressional Members are women (up from 20% in 2018) and 24% of U.S. Senators.  Additionally, nine governors are women (up from six in 2018) and 32 Mayors are women (of the largest 100 cities) (up from only 21 mayors in 2018).

               Percentages of Women in Elective Office 1971-Present. Center for American Women and Politics

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House in 2007. After serving as her party’s minority leader, she is the Speaker again today. Congresswoman Katherine Clark is the Assistant Speaker, and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is chair of the House Republican Conference. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the former chair of the House Republican Conference and is the only Member of Congress to give birth three times while in office. Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Vet and Purple Heart Recipient. She is the only sitting Senator ever to have a baby.

Women hold essential Fortune 100 leadership positions as well, including Mary Barra of GM, Adena Friedman of Nasdaq, and Vicki Hollub of Occidental Petroleum Corp. It’s not just women heading up Fortune 500 companies. There are 12.3 million women-owned businesses (up from 11.6 million in 2017). While there is still work to be done, let us celebrate the great accomplishments and progress that has been made.

How did we get to this position? Some brave, hardworking women came before us, such as Nellie Tayloe Ross, former Governor of Wyoming. In 1925, she was inaugurated as the first woman governor in the U.S.  And, Sandra Day O’Connor, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to be the first woman Supreme Court Justice. Next, consider Judith Rodin who was named the President of the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. She became the first woman to head an Ivy League school.

Keeping history and these statistics in mind, it is easy to be proud of where we have come from in this country. The work is not done. I would like to see more women in elected offices and more women in leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies. In the meantime, let’s take a minute to show our gratitude to all the women who have paved the way for our opportunities today and for the opportunities for our daughters tomorrow.