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Random Observations by Pat Ostrye

To Be Or Not To Be - Women in the Legislature!

     In Sacramento this week, Karen Bass was unanimously elected to the position of Assembly Speaker by fellow lawmakers.  She has the distinction of being the nation's first black woman to lead a legislative body, as term limits force the present Speaker, Fabian Nunez, to leave the Assembly.  Bass will be running the daily operations of the 80-member Assembly, working with the Governor and other members regarding the allocation of the $141-billion budget.

    This is a historic moment and everyone in Sacramento is genuinely overjoyed by the choice.  However, when the announcement was being made on TV, what baffled me was that one of the members gathered around Bass, admiringly (and patronizingly) said, "It is so amazing that a woman could hold this important position!"  Guess he momentarily forgot about Nancy Pelosi.  So, just who decided that only men are inherently imbued with the necessary intelligence, common sense and diplomacy to lead the world and, thus, are entitled to the "top jobs" as they are passed around the legislature or any other executive offices?!

    Other countries and nations learned faster than the United States, having not only numerous heads of states but, comparatively speaking according to population, higher percentages of women in their legislatures.  The percentage of women in the U.S. is 42% (That is in the entire country), in the Philippines 58%, France 37% and in the United Kingdom 35 %.

    When Senators Boxer and Feinstein were elected, California became the first state to be represented in the Senate by two women.  Kansas was next and then Maine.

    Suddenly, in the early 70s the country realized tht women were not satisfied to be relegated just to housekeeping, chauffeuring youngsters to school, music classes and afternoon sports events and, of course, there's that grocery shopping.  I remember that in 1974, the Wall Street Journal published a most encouraging headline, "Incumbents are out, Women are in!"

    Here in the valley, we were small-town stuff, but three of us were the first women elected to City Councils, bringing us front-page coverage in the L.A. TImes and on local TV stations:  Monrovia, Rosemead and Covina.  According to Women in Politics on the internet, in 1975 there were three women in the House in Washington and none in the Senate.  Now there are thirty-three in the House and Senate combined, out of 120, 27.5%.  Equality??

    Right now, I'm sure bets are on all over the country waiting to see if a woman or African American man could possibly take over that "Top Job", come November!

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