Art & History

Women in Congress

  Jeannette RankinSharon Sprung, 2004, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

While it might seem strange today to think of a time when women were not doing all of the same jobs as men, in the early days of the United States women rarely had jobs outside the home, much less in government. In fact, until 1917 when Jeanette Rankin of Montana was sworn-in as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, no women had served in Congress.

In 2001, Californian Nancy Pelosi made history as the first woman appointed to a position of leadership in the House. She moved quickly from House Minority Whip to the leader of House Democrats before being elected Speaker of the House in 2007.

Women have come a long way since the days of early America. Women now can choose to get an education, work outside the home, be a homemaker, or run for public office. Since the first woman was elected to Congress in 1916, nearly 250 women have served—have any of them been from your state?

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