The first woman president could be reading this (or maybe writing it, who knows?). Many people thought they would see a woman president this week, but women will be waiting at least four more years to break the highest glass ceiling. However, I am strengthened to know that electing the first woman president of the United States is inevitable, because women have been working towards this for more than a century and have moved closer to it that whole time. Today, it is important that we look back at some of the women who did that work and learn from their resolve. While these are certainly not all of the women who paved the way, it is a start when learning about women’s political history.
The election of the first woman president has been in the making since Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton issued the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Convention. She has been coming since Victoria Woodhull ran for president and Susan B. Anthony was arrested for attempting to vote in 1872. She has been approaching since Ida B. Wells founded the first organization dedicated to black women’s suffrage in 1913. She has been inevitable since Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives in 1917 and Hattie Caraway was the first woman elected to the Senate in 1932.
A woman president has been on the horizon since Frances Perkins became the first woman to join the Cabinet in 1933. She has been coming since Patsy Mink was the first woman of color elected to Congress in 1964. She has been coming since Shirley Chisholm sought the Democratic Party’s nomination in 1972 and since Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman on a major party ticket in 1984. Hillary Clinton’s legacy as the first woman to become a major party’s presidential nominee builds on the work of these women and many more. It is the final step before the glass ceiling shatters; the first woman president is imminent. As Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, “I know that we still have not shattered that specific glass ceiling. But some day someone will – hopefully sooner than we might think right now.”
I hope the first woman president is reading this and I share Secretary Clinton’s hope that we find out who she is soon. But while we wait, it is important that we do not forget the women who brought us here and teach our daughters that the fight didn’t begin here and it won’t end here.