Barbara Palmer is Professor of Political Science at Baldwin Wallace University and is the Creator and Executive Director of the Center for Women and Politics of Ohio (CWPO). The CWPO engages students, scholars, media and the public in the sharing of over 100 years of Ohio history and the remarkable stories of women who have run for public office. Professor Palmer teaches courses on American politics, civil rights and liberties, elections, and women and politics, and serves as the Director of the Legal Studies Program. She has given interviews and invited talks to a wide variety of groups across the country and internationally on American elections and the history of the integration of women into Congress. She has been interviewed by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Minnesota Public Radio, the Voice of America, and Die Ziet (Germany). Throughout her career, collaborating with non-profit organizations, she has worked with over 500 young women from across the nation, helping inspire them to get involved in politics.
From Mrs. Satan to Madame Speaker: 150 Years of Ohio Women Running for Public Office
The first woman to run for president? Victoria Woodhull, a native Ohioan called “Mrs. Satan” in the media for her controversial stance on women’s equality, ran in 1872. In 1922, the first election after the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified guaranteeing women the right to vote, Florence Allen successfully ran for Ohio’s state supreme court, making her the first woman to ever be elected to any state high court. Women were also elected to the Ohio state legislature for the first time; fourteen women ran and six won. It would take until 1995, however, for Jo Ann Davidson to become Ohio’s first — and only — female Speaker of the Ohio House. Today, Ohio lags behind most states in the proportion of women in public office. Why are there still so few women? Does this even matter? While Ohio can celebrate many “famous firsts,” the history of women running for public office is one of fits and starts, but full of inspiring stories.
Women have been running for public office in the United States for 150 years. However, it has only been since the 1970s that we have seen any significant progress in their numbers. In addition to sharing stories of some of the early trail-blazers who ran before the passage of the 19th Amendment, we will explore how historical barriers, such as incumbency and redistricting, have shaped the electoral success of female candidates. Did the 2016 and 2018 elections finally rewrite the rules?
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