January 19, 2021
From the nation's leading source on all things women and politics.
A New Era
It has been a grave time in American public life. As an institution devoted to the power of democracy and the role of electoral politics in pushing towards a more equitable society, we have been deeply disturbed by the attacks on our democratic institutions. But in the midst of the chaos, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are entering a new era of American politics. At this time tomorrow, America's vice president, for the first time in history, will be a woman.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will shatter barriers and attain the highest office ever held by a woman, or a woman of color, in the nation's government. As she enters office with the U.S. Senate split between the two major parties, she will, in her capacity as president of the Senate, be the tie-breaking vote on momentous legislation and could well become the most consequential vice president in the modern era.

The Center for American Women in Politics, which observes its 50th anniversary this year, has watched the growth of women's representation in American politics over the past half-century. In the year of our founding, 1971, 12 women served in the U.S. Congress. Today there are 143 - nearly a twelvefold increase. We watched the candidacies of Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin for vice president, the ground-breaking presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, and all the women who have braved a campaign for federal executive office, including the record number of women who ran in the most recent presidential primary. Those campaigns ended in defeat, but they laid the foundation for this moment.

In spite of our fears and grief in the last two weeks, we here at CAWP are reflecting on the magnitude of this moment and celebrating the ascension of Vice President Kamala Harris. We urge all of you, our friends, supporters, colleagues, and partners, to pause, to set aside the burdens of this time, if but for a little while, and allow the immensity of this achievement to settle in. We live in a world of ever-expanding horizons.
A New Jersey Political Icon Retires...But Not Just Yet! 
Last week, longtime friend of CAWP, NJ State Senator Loretta Weinberg, the Senate majority leader, announced she will retire at the end of her current term. Senator Weinberg, in her nearly three decades of public service, has been a tireless advocate for people in marginalized communities. Her work as a champion for women is ongoing, with the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics that she formed having just released a new report containing recommendations to change the culture of politics in the state. An influential legislator, her work in New Jersey has often been the blueprint for legislation around the country and nationally, including her bill that mandated 48 hours of post-childbirth hospitalization for mothers, which was a forerunner of similar legislation signed into law during the Clinton era. She led the way in the NJ Legislature for marriage equality and has fought tirelessly for transparency in state government and politics. Weinberg is a model public servant, guided by her conscience in standing up to the powerful, even when that means standing up to members of her own party.

Weinberg is also a cherished member of the extended CAWP community, and we were honored to be mentioned in her remarks at her retirement announcement. She frequently made herself available to the students of our NEW Leadership® program during their tours of the legislature, and her keynote speech to the NEW Leadership® New Jersey class of 2016 remains one of the most memorable in the program's history. She is also a CAWP Legacy Fund Donor, whose hope is that her legacy will be 'a whole generation of troublemakers' following her footsteps into politics. This is a legacy that we are proud to help carry forward into the future.
This Week in Ready to Run®
It's National Run for Office Day, and the first thing to do is get registered for Ready to Run®. This Thursday, January 21st, CAWP's 2021 Ready to Run® virtual campaign training sessions kick off with our Diversity Initiative roundtables:

  • 10am ET: Run Sister Run, moderated by Marilyn Davis and featuring Kimberly Peeler-Allen, Shanel Robinson, and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter.
  • 12:30pm ET: Rising Stars, moderated by Toral Patel and featuring S. Nadia Hussain, Lauren Lalicon, and Afsheen Shamsi.
  • 3:00pm ET: Elección Latina, moderated by Dr. Patricia Campos Medina and featuring Amalia Duarte, Felisha Reyes-Morton, and Noemi Velazquez.
This will be followed by our first national session, What Women Candidates Need to Know, featuring renowned pollster Celinda Lake on Friday, January 22nd at 1pm ET. Learn more about these sessions and their speakers and see what's coming up in the weeks ahead here. Lake will share some top takeaways from the 2020 election and offer key advice for women candidates to utilize in their own campaigns moving forward. She will provide skill-building information around public opinion research on women candidates, including key findings on the advantages and disadvantages facing women running for office, the likeability vs. qualifications conundrum, and messages  that are convincing to voters to support women candidates.                                                                                                               
Help sustain CAWP programming and support women running for office.

Women in the Biden Administration 
The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden will likely have the most women serving in Cabinet-level positions in history. The highest number of women serving in these positions concurrently was nine, during the second term of President Bill Clinton. The Biden transition has so far announced 11 women serving in Cabinet offices and in positions that historically have been Cabinet-level, and, as the vice president is also a member of the Cabinet, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the twelfth woman in the Biden Cabinet. 

For more information about these and other women in high-level leadership positions (not designated as Cabinet or Cabinet-level see our High-Level Presidential Appointments fact sheet, and to learn about the history of women in the federal executive, see Women Appointed to Presidential Cabinets.
CAWP in the News


Center for American Women and Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics
Rutgers University | New Brunswick
191 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8557
(848) 932-9384 - Fax: (732) 932-6778