Breaking the Last Glass Ceiling

women “Just pray to God. She will help you.” Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, 1916, President of the National Women’s Party and the founder of the Political Equality League.

After working as a key player in the Woman’s Suffrage movement -and seeing success in the form of the 19th amendment in 1920-Alva Belmont reportedly withheld her vote until a female candidate ran for president. Foolish or not it was a powerful statement of her belief in her goal of total and absolute equality.

“Do you know how many women were in the Senate in 1984? Two. We have multiplied that number by 14,” (Geraldine Ferraro, VP Nominee in 1984).  Although her ticket was defeated, it was a seminal moment in politics that was validated by the subsequent leap in the number of female candidates.

Women have run for president from both parties since Ferraro’s turn. The Democratic front-runner for 2016 — though not yet an announced candidate — is Hillary Clinton, who Ferraro fiercely supported in 2008. Ferraro passed three years ago.

Female Democrats have an advantage over female Republicans of almost 2-to-1 in state legislatures.  That ratio rises to more than 3-to-1 in Congress.  A major reason is “Emily’s List”, which has been recruiting and training female candidates since the year after Ferraro’s historic run. In this cycle, the group is training 1,000 women to run for office, assuring them they’re qualified and in demand.

Hillary Clinton this year ignited further speculation around a potential 2016 presidential run. “Hypothetically speaking, I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime,” said Clinton to an enthusiastic audience of thousands. “I hope that we will see a woman elected because I think it would send exactly the right historic signal to girls, women as well as boys and men. And I will certainly vote for the right woman to be president.”  She referenced former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who noted, “If women want to be in politics, they need to ‘grow skin as thick as a rhinoceros.’”  “And I think there is still truth to that, so you have to step up, you have to dare to compete,” Clinton added.

Dare to compete was a phrase Hillary took from a young female college student who she met while running for the Senate seat in New York. The young student told Clinton of her admiration for her accomplishments. She told her not to give up and being an athlete used the phrase “Dare to Compete” on a banner.

Having the confidence to put yourself out in hostile waters to reach a goal is a lesson everyone can take home. The best voices in both parties should be encouraged to run for office and those voices should reflect the demographic makeup of all fifty states. We will see Alva, if the ceiling cracks open in 2016.

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Politico on Warren vs Clinton  Atlantic Monthly on female presidency

-BBC-Hillary Dares all Women to Compete

LA Times-30 Years Since Ferraro made History

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