By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 12, 2019
Voters in Chicago made history on Tuesday by electing Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, as the city’s first black female mayor. Her commanding victory capped a grueling campaign in which Lightfoot, who will become the city’s first openly gay mayor, defeated more than a dozen challengers en route to winning her first elected office.
Lightfoot, 56, is now set to lead the nation’s third-largest city as it continues to grapple with gun violence, alleged public corruption, ongoing efforts to reform the police force and an exodus of black residents. In the runoff election on Tuesday, she defeated Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, in a contest fraught with historic meaning, given that it featured two black women vying to succeed outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Sojourner Truth didn’t deliver her iconic “Ain’t I a Woman?” address for the sake of an inspirational Instagram post. Susan B. Anthony didn’t champion women’s voting rights for a special museum exhibit. A women-themed happy hour was hardly the motivation for Sacagawea’s dangerous trek across the country with Lewis and Clark.
Yet we continue to celebrate Women's History Month with hashtags and Ruth Bader Ginsburg swag.
The last time two women led a House committee, the year was 1977 and the panel was the Select Committee on the House Beauty Shop.
My first understanding of gender quotas and their effect on women’s representation occurred in my political science research course. We were practicing with SPSS data software and our instructor had us run a test comparing the percentage of women in legislatures worldwide amongst countries with and without quotas. As the graph processed, we could see two distinct curves emerge— the line representing countries with quotas veered significantly upwards, showing the rapid difference in representation one institutionalized rule made. It was a clear, statistically-proven example of a concrete tool being used to successfully increase women’s participation in government, and although I was aware that other countries had varying levels of representation for women and minority groups, I had never considered that specific techniques to achieve parity could be used to advance those results.Read more