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What Gender Gap? Washington State Has a History of Women Who Lead
For Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, it has been a somewhat strange dynamic. They are not in the minority among politicians in their home state, but they are at the national level, and as such, have been called on to speak up for women. Recently, the two grabbed the spotlight during the debate over contraception.
Nationwide, women’s groups point out the glaring gender disparity in public life, noting that there are only 6 female governors and 17 female senators. Across the country, women make up 23.6 percent of state legislatures, according to Off the Sidelines, a project started last year by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York. But in Washington State, women’s serving in public office has been as consistent as the rain.
“Every once in a while a note or a letter will mention it,” Ms. Gregoire said. “But mostly, it’s taken for granted.”
Courtney Gregoire, her daughter, would relay differences between Washington State and Washington, D.C., where she worked as the director of the National Export Initiative at the Commerce Department. She found herself biting her tongue when men mentioned her age (she is 32), and she started wearing pantsuits to appear older. Once, after being the lone woman in a meeting of 25, she called her mother.
The governor replied, “Welcome to how it was for us.”