Former Senior Manager, Congressional Correspondence & Outreach
December 19, 2022
2022 was truly a year of women taking the lead, and this year’s successes are just the beginning. In the final days of the year, it is worth taking the time to reflect on accomplishments, accolades, and many, many, firsts.
In the corporate world, including women in executive positions and in the boardroom makes good business sense because when women are included in these conversations, they can bring new ideas and approaches to the table. In fact, a McKinsey study found that companies that rank high in gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability. If women leaders can help businesses reach their full potential, why would it be any different for public office?
Women have shown up and delivered, particularly in the 2022 elections. While it might be tempting to get bogged down in policy positions and backgrounds for these women, it is important to note that their presence alone in Congress, governors’ mansions, state legislatures, and local positions are historic. Along with the 149 women who will serve in the 118th Congress, women have also crushed historic numbers in gubernatorial races. Next year, 12 women will serve as governor. Of these 12 women, Maura Healy and Tina Kotek will serve as the first lesbian governors in the United States. Additionally, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be the first woman governor of Arkansas. Twelve women governors may seem like a small number. However, up until now, there have only been 45 women governors total in the history of the United States.
Women have also made impressive gains in state legislatures. Colorado will be the second state to have a majority women legislature, with women holding 51 of the 100 seats. Nevada became the first state to have women outnumber men in 2019. State races and legislatures can sometimes be cast aside in favor of the more contentious, more widely covered national races. Nonetheless, decisions that impact our daily lives are made at the state and local levels. As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
Undoubtedly, there is still more work to be done for women’s political representation. However, in the strive for perfection, let us not ignore the significance of Mary Peltola being elected the first Alaska Native to Congress, along with the record number of women of color who will serve with her in the new Congress. We must recognize and appreciate what a year of historic firsts means for young women and girls across the United States who are finally being represented for the first time ever.
In California, Karen Bass was sworn in as the first female mayor of Los Angeles by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman, and woman of color, to serve as Vice President. Women are better equipped to take the lead when they are surrounded by others who support their goals. In a similar vein, Betty Rosa, the first Latina Education Commissioner of New York, is making diversity one of her top priorities. Rosa says she did not see a teacher that looked like her until she was in college. Recognizing the importance of representation, she is dedicated to the two-fold goal of filling New York’s declining teaching workforce with more diverse staff.
Women have proven themselves as fearless leaders, advocates, and entrepreneurs. Yet, the work does not end in 2022. Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to hold federal office in the United States in 1917. One hundred and five years later, we are still making strides as a country for more equal representation. When women are included in the conversation, they are able to innovate, create, and inspire in new ways. Where we are today is far from perfect, but the progress is still worth celebrating.