From Dixy to Patty to Kamala
As we pass the midpoint of Women’s History Month, I think it’s fair to say that the Democrats of the 45th LD recognize the necessity of having women in positions of political leadership at all levels of our government. For some time we’ve understood what recent studies published in the Harvard Business Review have concluded: women score higher than men in most leadership skills and are better leaders during a crisis.
Linda Jenkins is our 45th Chair. Manka Dhingra is our State Senator. Angela Birney is Redmond Mayor, with Penny Sweet as Kirkland Mayor. At the federal level, 6 out of 10 of Washington’s Congressional Representatives are women, with 4 Democrats: Suzan DelBene (1st), Pramila Jayapal (7th), Kim Schrier (8th), and Marilyn Strickland (10th). And of course our longstanding Senators are Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
The Biden-Harris administration has selected a historic number of women for their cabinet: Janet Yellen at Treasury, Deb Haaland at Interior, Gina Raimondo at Commerce, Jennifer Granholm at Energy, and Marcia Fudge at HUD.
It’s not just a recent trend. The iconoclastic Dixy Lee Ray served as the Governor of Washington from 1977 to 1981 – just the 4th female governor ever elected.
But looking across the US as a whole, it is obvious that there is still much work left to do. Only 117 of the 435 US House Representatives are women (87 D and 30 R). 24 of the 100 senators are women (16 D and 8 R). And just 8 of 50 governors are women (5 D and 3 R).
It’s up to all of us to support women seeking leadership roles at all levels, here and across the country, from city councils to the highest federal offices. And there remains much work to do on issues that disproportionately impact women, from guaranteeing equal pay for equal work to paid family and medical leave.
It is said that March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb. Let’s all work together to fight with the heart of a lioness on issues to support women and encourage them to take on even more leadership roles.
Dixy Lee Ray: by Harold “Scotty” Sapiro, Governors’ Portrait Collection, Washington State Archives
Patty Murray: official US Senate photographic portrait
Kamala Harris: official US Senate photographic portrait