By Rebecca Gonzales
The Republican Party stereotype is that it is comprised of old white men. Conservative women often go unnoticed for their achievements simply due to their political affiliation. However, Republican women historically have been trailblazers in American politics and courts. Here are a few of the most influential Republican bellwethers for female roles in United States politics.
1. Jeannette Rankin
The first woman to serve in the United States Congress was Republican Jeannette Rankin. She pioneered the opportunity for 313 more women to serve in congress. Along with representing Montana, Rankin also worked in social services, and served as a professional lobbyist for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Rankin famously stated, “I may be the first woman member of congress, but I won’t be the last;” she was damn right.
2. Clare Booth Luce
Clare Booth Luce represented Connecticut between the years 1943-1947 in the House of Representatives. Historically, Luce was the first American woman appointed to ambassadorial work abroad; she served as the ambassador to Italy and Brazil. President Ronald Reagan awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her political and diplomatic work at home and abroad. Luce was the first congresswoman to achieve this award.
3. Sandra Day O’Connor
Sandra Day O’Connor is the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice. She graduated from Stanford Law School, and her Supreme Court tenure lasted 25 years. Before her time in the Supreme Court, she served in the Arizona State Senate. Not only was she the first female Supreme Court Justice, but O’Connor was also the first woman to serve as the Arizona Senate Majority Leader. Similar to Clare Booth Luce, O’Connor received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
4. Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice served as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. Rice was the first female African-American to serve in this position. During her time as Secretary of State, Rice traveled more than any former Secretary of State. Additionally, Rice was the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor. Rice currently teaches political science at Stanford University; she also founded the advisory firm RiceHadleyGates LLC., and is a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee.
5. Susana Martinez
Susana Martinez, former attorney, is the first female governor of New Mexico and the first Hispanic female governor in the United States. In an increasingly liberal state, Martinez continues to stand up for her conservative values. Before serving as governor of New Mexico, Martinez served three terms as district attorney for New Mexico’s 3 Judicial District in Dona Ana County. In 2010 she won “Prosecutor of the Year” award by the State Bar of New Mexico. A few years later in 2013, Time magazine added her to the Time 100, or their top 100 most influential people in the world list. Touting her strong conservative values, Martinez stated that she carried a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum as a security guard when she was 18 years old.
6. The 114th Congress On January 6, 2015 the 114th congress proved that strong Republican women are willing to run for office; they championed some landmark campaigns. Just a few of our conservative champions include Elise Stefanik (NY), Mia Love (UT), and Joni Ernst (IA). Elise Stefanik, 30 years old, made history as the youngest woman ever elected to U.S. Congress. Additionally, Congresswoman Mia Love is the first African American elected to Congress from Utah. Another history-maker, Joni Ernst, is the first female veteran to serve in the Senate. Other victors include Martha McSally, Mimi Walters, Barbara Comstock, and Shelley Moore Capito.
As a conservative Hispanic young woman, I’m disheartened by the anti-woman stereotypes of the Republican Party. By claiming that the party consists of old white men, liberals discredit the decades of work achieved by Republican women. Unfortunately, women are historically treated unfairly. As time passes, I’m fully confident women will continue to grasp pivotal roles in society. Thankfully, these aforementioned Republican women helped to spark the cause.