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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Women's Senate Networking Luncheon attended by Sacred Heart Alumnae

L - R: Sacred Heart alums, Kathy Byrne and Sheila Smith attended the 
Women's Senate Network Luncheon on Wednesday, October 3rd
at the Paris Club with Illinois State Sen. Alan Dixon

This past Wednesday I was invited to attend the Women's Senate Network Luncheon at the Paris Club in Chicago.  I was a guest of Sheila Smith, Chair of the Barat Education Foundation and also a Sacred Heart alumna. 

The two guest speakers were Senator Patty Murray ~ Chair, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Senator Kay Hagan ~ Chair, Women's Senate Network. Kathy Byrne, a Sacred Heart alum and daughter of former Chicago Mayor Jane M. Byrne (alumna of Barat College class of 1955) introduced Senator Hagan.  It is always a treat to see Senator Dick Durbin. Sen. Durbin has been very instrumental in helping to see that the Teaching with Primary Sources is a reality in Illinois. 

The room was filled with many like minded women but what I found to be most surprising was the list of startling statistics printed and placed on each place setting.  It read as follows - 


  • Only 17% of Congress is female.
  • The 2010 election was the first cycle since 1987 that the number of women elected to Congress was fewer that the year before.
  • Four states (DE, IA, MI and VT) have never sent a woman to either the Senate or the House.
  • Not a single woman sat on the Congressional dais in February, 2011 when the notorious HR 3 bill, which included a provision that could subject victims of rape and incest to abortion audits by the IRS, was debated in House subcommittee.
* Statistics from the Center for American Women and Politics and Lawless and Fox's Why Don't Women Run for Office? Brown Policy Report. 

Women hold 90, or 16.8%, of the 535 seats in the 112th US Congress ~ 17, or 17.0% of the 100 seats in the Senate and 73, or 16.8%, of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.  In addition, three women serve as Delegates to the House from Guam, the Virgin Islands and Washington, DC.

Women in the U.S. Senate and House

  • Since the first Congress, 12, 014 people have served in the House or Senate. Of these, 268 (roughly 2%) have been women.
  • The first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA).  Appointed in 1922, she served for one day.
  • The first woman elected to the U. S. House of Representatives was Jeannette Rankin (R-MT), who served from 1917-1919 and again from 1941-42.  A pacifist, she was the only person to vote against U. S. entry into both World Wars.
  • Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House Democratic Leader, is the first woman to lead her party in Congress.
  • To date, a total of 39 women have served in the U.S. Senate, including 25 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
  • The first woman of color in Congress was Representative Patsy Mink (D-HI) who served fro 1965-1977 and again from 1990 until her death in 2002.  The first African American woman in Congress was Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), who served from 1969-1983. The first Latina in Congress was Representative Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL), who took office in 1989 and is still serving.
  • Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is the first woman (and the only Republican woman) to have been elected to her State House, State Senate, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate.  Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also followed this path to the U.S. Senate, making her the first Democrat to do so.
  • Loretta Sanchez (D-CA47) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA 39) are the first sisters to serve together in Congress.
Closer to Home
  • In 2012, 75 women hold statewide elective executive offices across the country - 23.4% of the 320 available seats.
  • 1,749 or 23.7% of the 7,382 state legislators in the United States, are women. Since 1971, the number of women serving in state legislatures has more than quintupled.
  • As of January 2012, among the 100 largest cities in the U.S., 12 had women mayors.
From Rutgers University, the Center for American Women and Politics

It was a very "eye-opening" luncheon and naturally it was wonderful to be with fellow Sacred Heart alums. I would encourage all citizens but most especially women to get involved on a local, state and national level.

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