With Al Franken stepping town as Senator for Minnesota, former Lt. Governor Tina Smith has been sworn in to fill the seat he vacated. Smith’s swearing in marks sets a new record for both women and Democrats alike.
The sad, but still record breaking number of women serving the Senate is 22, out of 100 seats. This means men still make up four-fifths of the Senate. Equality is still very much something that needs to be fought for, but progress is marked by a step in the right direction.
Smith, who has served as lieutenant governor of Minnesota for nearly 3 years, has helped Minnesota join three other states that also have two women serving as senators, Washington, New Hampshire, and California.
If she wins the election in November, she could stay on as a junior senator in Minnesota.
Below is a the video of Doug Jones and Tina Smith being sworn in as senators for Alabama and Minnesota, courtesy of NBC News:
According to The Washington Post, Debbie Walsh, Rutgers University director of the Center for American Women in Politics, said:
‘Women are kinda seeking up, one at a time.’
Progress has been made in Congress over the past 10 years, but it seems to be at a standstill of 20 percent across every level of government. Overcoming gender dynamics has been a huge part of the problem, as women don’t tend to win at the same rate as men when running for office. The fact that research has consistently shown that women have to make themselves as likable as possible to get votes, whereas men don’t.
The response from Twitter to Democratic women now holding a record 17 seats among the 22 female senators was positive, but the general consensus feels that 22 seats out of 100 being occupied by female senators is not nearly enough:
According to The Washington Post, the biggest problem is the lack of women running for positions. Many women are probably deterred from doing so, knowing that it’s an uphill battle, but it’s worth fighting the good fight.
After the 2016 U.S. presidential election Debbie Walsh said:
‘For all of the talk of this being a change election, it was not a change election for women in politics. We just aren’t seeing enough of them.’
Still, Kelly Dittmar, a Rutgers University expert in women in politics, says there is hope for the future and for 2018 in particular. With the majority of the activism toward progress emanating from Democrats.
‘2018 is shaping up as a political climate ripe for women’s political advancement.’
This Democratic female progress is just the beginning, with Republicans scrambling to capitalize. GOP donors are actively recruiting people to groups that will help women get elected. Part of this is merely necessity, but it’s also part of balancing out the Democratic women in the senate.
Currently only five women from the Republican party are serving as senators, 26 in Congress, and most of the House Republicans aren’t set to return next term.
On his Twitter account, former Minnesota Senator Al Franken announced that Smith would be sworn in and described her as a tireless public servant:
Tina Smith is a dedicated public servant who has worked tirelessly on behalf of Minnesotans. I spoke with her last night, and I know she’ll be an effective U.S. senator who brings people together to get things done. I’ll be following @SenTinaSmith. Hope you do too. https://t.co/eElScrfQpr
— U.S. Senator Al Franken (@SenFranken) January 3, 2018
Senator Smith created a new official Twitter page and with it she had a message about her appointment to the Senate:
Today, I’ll be sworn in to the United States Senate. I’m looking forward to continuing to be a fierce advocate for Minnesotans, and carrying on the progressive legacy of this seat. I hope you’ll follow along here, because I’m ready to get to work.
— Tina Smith (@SenTinaSmith) January 3, 2018
Featured Image via Getty Images