Thank you all very much. Let me tell you I came to Kansas State University to ski. Don't tell people that in Colorado, I'll get in great trouble. I have seen some posters that say "Ski Kansas." I never took them seriously until today, but now I think they are right.
I was trying to figure out exactly how to handle all of this today and what kind of context to put it into. I was thinking that had we been raised with different sayings we wouldn't even have to have this speech today. If we had grown up hearing such things as "render unto Cleopatra those things that are Cleopatra's" or "no woman is an island" or "I never met a woman I didn't like," we wouldn't have to be here talking about Abigail Adams' first struggle to get equality for women and the continuing struggles ever since then.
Abigail Adams was really the Thomas Paine of the Colonial women's movement. She was there and she was writing to her husband as he was writing all those documents with his friends for this new country saying "please include women." You remember her plea, "Remember the ladies," and she kept saying it over and over and over again. She said:
"If particular care and attention are not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a revolution and will not hold ourselves bound to obey any laws in which we have no voice or representation."
Well, they didn't give her any voice and they didn't give her any representation. Women didn't have the right to vote and women didn't get to participate at that time. The revolution finally came, but it took a lot longer than Abigail Adams had thought to get moving. Nevertheless, when you look at the whole history of women in America you realize that they really have been participating since they first put their foot on the shore. I keep reminding people that we do not know enough about women's history and we ought to do everything that we can to reinstate it.
As much as we all agree with the men who wrote that Declaration of Independence, and as important as it was, I remind you that writing the Declaration was not a crime. George III could not have cared less what one wrote. Printing it was a crime, because then you could send it out to the colonies and everybody else might get the idea that they ought to revolt, too. So after they got it written, as you well know, they went around and tried to find someone to print it. All the printers that they found in Philadelphia said, "I love the document," "terrific," "great idea," "wish you all the best, but I really like my head right where it is and 1 have a family and I certainly wouldn't want to run the risk of being held for treason." They finally found a woman who had inherited her husband's printing press. Her name was Mary Goddard, and she said, "Lovely document. I understand it is treasonous. I want George III to know full well what I am doing." She is the one who printed it and she wrote her name on the bottom of the Declaration of Independence so George III would know that she knew full well what she was doing.
So, yes indeed, there is the name of a woman on there and, yes indeed, she did gamble a lot and many women gambled a lot to see that this country got started. Abigail Adams tried to tell them and they didn't listen. Nevertheless, what they did do was make Mary Goddard the Postmaster General of Baltimore she was the highest paid federal woman employee, for, I think, 150 years and forgot all the rest of them. But women went on to continue to contribute in this country in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of forms and I could give a whole lecture on just the history of women, minutewomen, as I like to call them and how we ought to bring them all back and talk about them more, but that is not quite our purpose here today.
The Abigail Adams rebellion has been some time fomenting. Her plea went unheeded and the Constitution ignored "the ladies." Women did not issue their declaration of independence until almost 75 years later, at the famed Seneca Falls convention in 1848.
No one at that convention lived to see women get the right to vote because that didn't happen nationwide until 1920. So it was a long, drawn out situation. I am always amazed at the number of people who say to me, "Why do you re-introduce the ERA? You had your one chance." I answer that if they had done that with the right to vote, we would have never made it. You had your one chance and it was over in 1848, as a matter of fact, so it would have never transpired. But women worked very hard and men worked with them, finally, to get the right to vote and to participate.
In the interim they did all sorts of other things. Harvard Medical School has been coming out with several new books about how women have a different left brain-right brain weight from men. You've been reading all of that. And maybe that's why we haven't looked at what women have done in the past as being as valuable as what men have done. One of the things that they talk about as they are doing this whole new area of discovery of women's brains versus men's brains, is that it is very difficult for anybody to identify with the victim of anything unless he is a victim himself. It is very hard to imagine what it is like to be a victim of civil rights discrimination or any kind of persecution unless it really happens to you, and then we tend to get all activated. The interesting thing that women have been doing with this different-weighted brain is that it has been easier for them to make that connection with victims without being the victim themselves.
We all know and we all remember women's contributions in the past to people in mental health institutions. It was very courageous women who turned around how we dealt with the mentally ill. It was women who said, "Wait a minute. The way we are dealing with prisoners is wrong," and it wasn't very popular to feel sorry for prisoners and look at prison reform, but they were there.
When you look at the abolition of slavery, women were making that connection so that the rest of society could start to identify with what was going on. Let me give you an example. In the South you had Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman was running the underground railroad. She knew that if she wrote down the code for the railroad somebody would be apt to find it and break it. So instead, they wrote all those spirituals that the white folks thought were just nice little songs; but they were all codes for the underground railroad. If you memorized the code and sang the songs you knew how to get out. Thousands of people were able to escape through the underground railroad by knowing that code.
In the North there was another Harriet: Harriet Beecher Stowe, wanting desperately to help end the slavery conflict, thinking that it was one of the greatest social injustices in this country. But being very frustrated because people didn't understand how the victims felt, she wrote the book, as you all know, about Unck Tom's Cabin. So for the first time white America was able to make that leap and start identifying with the victim, and it was very helpful in dealing with abolition.
We know that women worked very hard in the child labor restrictions. Women have been active in all sorts of areas that our society hasn't always felt was important software problems, people problems, victim problems, outcast problems, equality problems, education problems, and so forth. And again I could give you all sorts of incidents of women as innovators in these areas that follow on the new Harvard School theory of left brain-right brain.
We keep moving, we keep moving through this whole historical perspective. What we saw happening then was this giant head of steam coming to fruition in 1920 when the women did get the right to vote. People hoped that it was going to make a big difference in how electoral politics turned out. It did for a while whole women's slates were run in some states and won. Many states then suddenly had co-chairs of their parties, men and women. There were a couple of states that had women on the Supreme Court.
All sorts of things started to happen in 1920. New laws got through in the Congress that really were very beneficial to women. People forget that in World War I, if a 10th generation American, as a woman, married a foreign national, she lost her citizenship. And in World War I many women in that situation who were married to Germans had all their property taken from them because they instantly lost their citizenship with marriage. That was changed. It was decided that women should be able to retain their citizenship just as men did, that women were not chattel to be traded.
Then the other thing that they found out was that during World War I more women in this country died in childbirth than we had troops dying in the war. And they found that the Congress was spending more money for vaccinating hogs than they were for looking at the problems of women and the maternity problems in getting live babies here and keeping the mother alive, too. In Colorado you can really see that. You can go through a lot of the old graveyards and look at the number of tombstones that say, "Died in childbirth." It is really quite shocking and you really realize what a revolution we have had in health care.
Those are some of the very major things that women voting in the '20s were able to get through, because they organized in Washington and they said, "These are our priorities."
But the movement ran out of political steam. Many women thought the battle was won and their interests turned elsewhere. The Depression hit, followed by World War II, the Cold War, and the Korean War. Women never quite got back to getting everything going and to changing the world the way they had hoped to be able to do it when they were asking for the right to vote.
In the 1950s, women ended up being portrayed as people who should be terribly happy if they had their floors waxed. And a lot of women started to ask, "Isn't there a little more to life than this?"
In 1960, Redbook magazine featured an article, "Why Do Young Mothers Feel Trapped," and asked their readers to write in with their stories. Over 24,000 mothers did. All was not well.
Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique, came out in 1963 and sold two million copies over the next 20 years. The mystique was "the problem that had no name" the problems that had prompted 24,000 letters from Redbook readers.
Friedan focused attention on the identity crisis many women experience, the lack of fulfillment, the mystery that being a woman was enough, and she gave it a name.
I think many of us who lived through that period understand how polarized we were. I often get into an awful lot of trouble with the women's movement by talking about this but I always tell them I was not raised in a stereotypical way. I went to Harvard Law School. My parents allowed me to fly airplanes. I studied Chinese. I did all sorts of things. I worked. But when I ran for Congress, if I had ever thought I was going to win, I wouldn't have run. Now that makes people very upset when they hear that, but I must say that even though I did all of those things, and even now, I come from a family where my mother worked, she was a teacher, and I didn't think of that as extraordinary. The whole concept of having a two year old and six year old and being a Con-congresswoman, in my head I said I could do it, down here in my stomach I said, "No way! What have I done to my life? What have I done to my family? Have I ever messed up! Tell me I didn't win." My husband kept saying, "You can't have a press conference and say, 'I was kidding.' " And I could sit there and say, "You know it really doesn't make any difference to my children whether I sort their socks or someone else does, or whether I do the grocery shopping or someone else does," But still down in your stomach, your cultural thing says, "What are you trying to do? You are trying to have it all, and maybe you can't." I was right in that shifting sand area.
When I applied to Harvard Law School I remember my counselor saying, "That is terrible. Do your parents know you are doing this? They will probably never be grandparents because who in the world would marry someone who went to Harvard Law School." I remind you that that was not that long ago.
So at each step, I kept wondering if I really was doing the right thing. Because everyone wanted to remind me that I had sold out on femininity, that I couldn't be a mother, that my mother wouldn't have grandchildren, that my father wouldn't have grandchildren. "Isn't this awful? How can you deny them that privilege?" And I kept saying, "Don't you think they will be proud of me because I went to Harvard Law School?" My counselor said, "No." And he even said, "What is this going to do to your brother?" It was all very befuddling.
I think many women in my generation went through that era of trying to sort out who they were and what they were. We were allowed to go to college. We were allowed to get degrees. But when we came out of college, we weren't quite sure what we were supposed to do with the degree. At Harvard, when I was ready to graduate, I went into the personnel office and they said, "Look, you know nobody wants to hire young women. First of all, you're married. You will probably have babies and they just aren't going to be interested. We only try to put our students out that we feel really have some chance." And I said, "I have been paying you guys for this degree for three years. What am I supposed to do with it, hang it over the sink?" They kind of laughed and said, "I guess so." This sort of thing was going on in many young women's lives. Trying to figure out how that all happened. And these changing patterns just really left us all looking for our identity crisis. I think that's what Betty Friedan and many of the people in the women's movement captured in the early '70s as they started to talking about these issues. And yet we were a long way from being there.
In 1972 when I ran for office, the women's caucus in the Democratic Party, which I had helped found, endorsed my opponent because it was too early for a woman to run. So even those who were professed feminists weren't quite sure what we were supposed to be doing or where we were going.
We now see that we have sorted through more and more of this, and have become much more comfortable with it, and have a much better idea of what has really transpired. Basically what's transpired is that you have got more and more women in the work force and, let's face it, they are going to stay there outside the home and inside the home. Let's face it, all mothers are working mothers, outside the home and inside the home and they've got all sorts of balls to juggle in the air. The question is, what do we do with a society that really hasn't changed its laws or pretends that family life in this country hasn't changed since 1932? They would like to see all family life as a 1932 Norman Rockwell painting. Now, 17 percent of America's families look like that and the other 83 percent are different. You see man and wife both working, children in school, everybody is struggling to keep up with everything else and they really need different kinds of support.
You see the massive movement in the feminization of poverty. Two out of every three adults in poverty are women and the census bureau tells us it will be three out of three by the year 2000 if the trend continues. Now, who are the women moving into poverty? They are older women who suddenly find out that there was no pension to vest, or they didn't have survivor's benefits, or that they were treated under the inheritance laws like they have been lying around eating bon-bons, and anything they got from their husbands was a windfall, and they have to pay taxes on it rather than an economic partner. All that kind of discrimination has put older women in many instances below the poverty line for the first time in their life, and that's very cruel and very hard to adjust to. At the age of 43, I find it more and more difficult to be flexible, but suddenly to wake up and find that you are below the poverty line when you are 70 must really make it hard to be flexible and figure out what you are doing.
So you have the elderly woman and you have the younger woman of two different types. You have the single parent family woman, many of whom got married at a very young age, had children right away, don't have the job skills because they were told they didn't need them if they had a husband. They suddenly find themselves divorced with young children and they are 25 years old and have their whole life in front of them and they haven't been able to find the jobs that they can do that will support them, so that is very critical for them and it is very critical for their children.
Today we have five million more women and children living in poverty than we had just three years ago. For this society that is a very, very sobering factor. What we have been trying to do in the Congress is transcend what happened to the women's movement in the '70s. In the '70s 1 think it is most unfortunate that the women's movement got portrayed as a sporting event, and I think you know what 1 mean. The great thing was to get two fighting cats on television, you know, one going rah-rah and the other going rah-rah, and after you get all that done you didn't learn a thing. Look at how the media treated women's issues. George Washington University has done a very thorough analysis of the press in the '70s on six major women's issues. Domestic relations was one of the issues they looked at. Rather than looking at the lack of child support enforcement, rather than looking at the trend in courts not to give alimony or not to allow alimony to be collected, the whole focus concerning domestic relations was how hard Charlotte Ford was hitting up Henry Ford in their divorce suit. It makes great press and it's fun to read about.
The '80s haven't changed much; now we read about the Carsons. But the real families are not having that kind of problem because you are not talking about divvying up megabucks. You are trying to figure out how they survive if they come apart. And those real kinds of things are still not being addressed.
On the Equal Rights Amendment in the '70s, they looked at 2,200 newspaper stories. They found that fewer than 50 of those 2,200 newspaper stories quoted anyone that could be said to be an expert. Everybody else was putting out the same old garbage and misinformation on the Equal Rights Amendment, you know, unisex toilets and combat boots. People were saying that we couldn't have the Equal Rights Amendment because it would make us all the same. Now if anyone in this room can figure out how you can legislate to make everyone the same, you just can't do it. It reminds me when I first came to Congress and the beef shortage was on, and a Congressman from New York introduced a bill to shorten the gestation period of a cow. That probably would have helped the shortage, but you can't do that. Again, the Equal Rights Amendment doesn't bring unisex and it doesn't make everyone the same. It makes people equal in rights for pension, social security, for legal things that are out there. That is what it does. It is that simple. But again this document shows how people cannot understand that because the stories written about it were different. Of all those 2,200 stories written about the Equal Rights Amendment only 30 percent even copied the 24 words correctly. So people didn't even know what the amendment really said.
How do we transcend the polarization between women and women and between women and men, to achieve the new human wholeness that is the promise of feminism, and get on with solving the concrete, practical, everyday problems of living, working and loving as equal persons? That is the challenge of the'80s.
What were the changes in society that moved us this far, and where are we headed? Over the past several generations, while political feminism rose and fell, there were major social and economic changes going on in America. Some, like the migration of Americans from rural to urban areas, are well known. Others are less known, or are seen as recent trends. In fact, however, they have been building for decades. For example, female participation in the salaried work force has been steadily increasing for the past century. It is not just a post-World War II phenomenon. In 1890, only five percent of married women and 20 percent of all women were in the salaried work force. By 1910, ten percent of the married and 25 percent of all women held jobs outside the home. The rates dropped during the 1920s, and began to climb again during the Depression and war years. More significantly, the work participation difference between married and unmarried women all but disappeared. By 1980, half of all women in America were in the work force. "My wife doesn't work," the former boast of many American men, was wrong on two counts. She either worked at home, in an unsalaried job, or she worked outside the home in a salaried job. In many cases, she did both.
Look at education: over the past century, the number of undergraduate degrees awarded to women climbed slowly but inexorably. In 1870, 15 percent went to women; by 1930 the number had risen to 40 percent. The G.I. Bill era reversed that trend, but only temporarily. By 1970, the gap was narrowing again. In 1980, women received 49 percent of all undergraduate degrees.
Female students were now majoring in traditionally male fields such as engineering up 830 percent between 1972 and 1982; agriculture up 429 percent; business up 247 percent; architecture up 130 percent; and computer sciences up 123 percent.
Similar changes were occurring in the professions: between 1972 and 1982, women receiving degrees in law quadrupled from 7 percent to 30 percent; medicine more than doubled from 9 percent to 23 percent, dentistry went up sharply, from 1 percent to 14 percent; and veterinary science almost quadrupled, from 9 percent to 33 percent. The percentage of doctorate degrees awarded to women in the last ten years had almost doubled from 16 percent to 30 percent.
These rather remarkable educational advances contrast with the Supreme Court's recent decision to restrict equal opportunity in education the Grove City College case. Schools that receive federal financial assistance are now allowed more freedom to discriminate.
I always thought that if you paid equal taxes you ought to get equal services. That was an issue in 1776, and now it's an issue again.
Likewise, the federal government has recently moved to weaken the Women's Educational Equity Act, which had been a leader in funding programs to open math, science, technology, and vocational ed courses and careers to women. The current "budget zero" funds the program that's Washington talk for eliminating the program.
Meanwhile, paradoxically, as women have made great strides in education, their economic fortunes stagnated. Because of job segregation and pay inequities, the wage gap between men and women has widened. Contrary to what one might expect, the wage gap is about the same regardless of educational level. Women high school drop-outs or college graduatesm receive less than 60 cents for every dollar earned by equally educated man. In my opinion, the single most important women's issue in the 1980s will be comparable worth equal pay for jobs of comparable value.
A history lesson. Just over twenty years ago, in 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act requiring businesses to pay equal wages for equal work. If you think that was a simple move, you're wrong. The fight to pass that law went on for years. Employer organizations argued it would cost them too much money and was improper government interference.
The equal pay fight was just the beginning. The simple fact remains that occupations filled with women nursing, teaching, and secretarial are generally low paying. Comparable worth does not mean pay men less, nor does it mean pay women more. It means pay people what they are worth. In many cases it will mean paying women more I'm sure we can live with that.
Now the naysayers argue that there are no standards no one can determine what a job is worth. If you will permit me a farm term, that's hogwash. Every business, company, union, and government agency has standards to set wages and salaries. Large corporations even have rules to decide the size of your office, the carpet on the floor, and the size desk you get. No, the problem is not lack of standards. The problem is that there are standards and the standards are wrong. When a nurse or a high school math teacher with a college education is paid less than a liquor store clerk with a high school education, there is something wrong with our wage standards, not to mention our values.
One of the naysayers, Phyllis Schlafly, was in Colorado recently. She said that liquor store clerks should be paid more than nurses because they lift heavy boxes; and tree trimmers should be paid more than teachers because they work outdoors. Fine, let's pay nurses the same as surgeons, because they both work indoors. And secretaries the same as lawyers because neither lifts heavy boxes. Furthermore, the kids who deliver our newspapers should be paid six figure salaries because they drag around heavy bundles and brave the elements.
The real cause of the wage disparity is that most women's jobs 80 percent of all women are in 25 job categories like nursing, teaching, service, and office jobs are not highly valued. Can someone explain to me why cutting a lawn is more valuable to society than teaching kindergarten?
In the first successful, major comparable worth lawsuit in the U.S., the federal case decided in Seattle last month, the judge found that there were standards, and the state of Washington violated them. There was a 20 percent wage disparity between jobs held largely by women and jobs held largely by men.
Paradoxically, as we see more women in the work force and more women getting more education, we are also seeing the feminization of poverty. The startling rise in the number of female heads of household and poor elderly women has feminized poverty. Divorce is a pivotal factor. Although there are indications that the divorce rate may have plateau in recent years, between 1920 and 1980 it more than tripled. And if it has leveled off, it's a rather high plateau more than 50 percent of marriages contracted today will end in divorce, separation, or desertion. The economic effect of divorce on women, especially those with children, is nothing short of disastrous.
Less than half the women who retain custody of the children receive their full, court ordered child support. Almost one-quarter receive nothing. A California study of 3,000 divorced couples found that one year after divorce, the woman's income dropped 73 percent while the man's had increased 43 percent! It is little wonder, if present trends continue, that by the year 2000, the poor in America will be almost entirely women and children.
The anti-ERA lobby talks a lot about women needing to be "protected." But that's exactly the point of the ERA: inequality is no protection. Whatever the standard wages, pensions, child support, survivors' benefits women come up short. It is no wonder that the ERA has become an economic issue. The gender gap, the difference between how men and women tend to vote, is largely based on economic issues. Inequality is an economic issue.
Most public opinion polls show that men and women agree on what are called "women's issues" like ERA, day care, etcetera. The disagreements are on economic and peace issues. The margin in the gender gap polls ranges from five percent to 15 percent a large margin considering that women make up 53 percent of the voters.
These trends are reshaping American politics because our political system accommodates itself to shifting currents. Women have adjusted to the new interest by male politicians in women's issues, and men have adjusted to the increased role of women and women's concerns in politics.
When I first came to the Congress there was no women's caucus, and that's because we had some members who said, "I'm not just a woman and I didn't come here and ..." Finally we got everybody together, but only on the basis that we did nothing unless we had unanimous consent and the dues could never be more than $50 a year. Trying to get unanimous consent out of anything is hard, and $50 a year does limit your ability to do much more than have tea parties. When I took over the caucus I decided that the time had come to end that nonsense. I raised the dues to $2,000 a year and dropped the unanimous consent rule. We're big enough that we can disagree on some things and agree on some things, but we can't tie the hands of the caucus. It is important that we have a voice and it's important that we spend the money to have the research and data behind us. Obviously some of the women dropped out, but we decided that there were several men in the Congress who had a 100 percent voting record on women's issues and that we would invite those that had good voting records to join us.
The Congresswomen's Caucus changed its name to the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. Over 100 men joined and the total membership is. now 129, making it one of the largest caucuses in the Congress. Senator Nancy Kassebaum is on our executive committee and Congressman Jim Slattery is a caucus member.
We decided that what the thing really was is not the women wanting to walk in front of men and it's not women walking behind men, we want to walk alongside. We want to do our part. We want to carry our load and we want to do whatever it is; but we would be much more effective if the men joined us. The men have joined us and we are now the biggest caucus on the Hill. I think that that is really the mode it is now men and women working for very major issues that used to just be called women's issues, and when people said that they would snarl. Women's issues basically are family issues. They're aging issues. They are human issues. What we have done in the caucus is put together a whole list of legislation that we are trying to move. Democrats and Republicans alike, liberals and conservatives, have been pushing bills of interest to women. Suddenly, IRA expansion, pension reform, Social Security changes, child support, Title IX, are hot tickets in the Congress. The Economic Equity Act, a package of tax, retirement, insurance, alimony and child support, day care, and regulatory reforms to improve the economic security of women now has 131 cosponsors in the House and 32 in the Senate.
We are dealing with child support enforcement which we got out of the House with a very, very wide margin. It is now in Senator Dole's committee and we hope it gets out of the Senate very soon. What it says is, we really should not force families to go on welfare to get child support enforcement. We need to have child support enforcement because it is the children that are suffering. It shouldn't be male versus female it's "remember the kids." Most states do better at car payment enforcement, which is not saying very much.
We have all sorts of pension packages so that women don't find some day that they never had any survivor's benefits, and it's always too late when they are the survivor. So that we find out more about the vesting and women have a much better crack at knowing when they are vesting and the portability of pensions. There is a whole variety of things dealing with federal pensions, state pensions, private pensions. I promise I won't go into that on this snowy day. I just tell you it is a very important part of this package that's moving.
We allow women who choose to, to form an IRA. They should be able to put money away for an IRA. Then we say that there should be tax provisions for any kind of dependent day care. It shouldn't be just children. Many families have elderly parents that need dependent day care. They have handicapped individuals. The have people who are sick. All of those are a business cost and they should be treated as such. It is outrageous that you can write off a three martini lunch but you can't write off taking care of another human being who is in desperate need of it. In fact, we got this through the inheritance provision that I mentioned before and that was that if a man and wife worked on the farm all their life and the man dies, the wife was treated as if it was a windfall, but she had to sell it to pay the taxes. That is outrageous. You shouldn't tax intergenerational transfers such as that and we did get that through the federal level.
Then, we deal with the whole package around the economic area, work, part-time, flexi-time, short-time. Trying to find new ways in the work place so it is not quite so oppressive on parents. Also, dealing with the latch-key day care issue, for $15 million over the next five years you could almost solve all latchkey day care in America. You do it on a model that came out of Denver. What does it do? It says that there all these schools qualified under all state laws. The taxpayers paid for them so it gives a little seed money for non-profit groups to put together after school programs for kids whose parents are working. And it makes sense, because what is happening to our children today with their parents working is they stay home and watch soap operas. They are not getting the music lessons, the ballet lessons, the computer lessons, the games, all the things that they used to get. So for a very small amount, that model could go all over America. The infrastructure is there. You don't need to buy one brick. It's just the start up to get everybody together to find out who wants to do it and how to move forward with that.
We have the whole area of redoing Title IV, which says that if you get federal money, then you provide equal education for young women if they want to take a course; that the school shouldn't say, "Why do you want to take that? You can't take that your chromosomes are wrong." If they are qualified, they can take it. That is half the reason that I went to the University of Minnesota as an undergraduate because I wanted to take aerodynamics engineering and most universities said that I couldn't. And I really didn't think that was quite fair. Well, this says that you can't do that if you are getting federal money, and we are trying to reinstate that whole think after the Supreme Court knocked it out. We are trying to reinstate the Women's Economic and Equal Education Act, which has also been gutted. There has been a whole lot of gutting that has been done and we are trying very, very hard to transcend the competition between men and women and make them understand that family life is going to be a whole lot better everything will be a whole lot better, the whole country will be a whole lot better if you use your software, i.e., your people, to allow people to get educated to whatever level they want to go. Then you provide a way that they can continue to use it other than put it on ice, i.e., hang your Harvard diploma over the sink and look at it. There is nothing wrong with doing the sink work, but there is also nothing wrong with using the Harvard diploma. Otherwise, you just wasted all that money educating and there is a way to put it together.
Now, we have done some other very interesting things that many people may not approve of, but it's been very exciting. We decided that when you really look at these issues, they are children's issues, too. Children get forgotten in the private sector because they don't have money to buy things, and they get forgotten in the public sector because they don't vote. So we formed the Committee on Children, Youth and Family. Actually, almost everything that is a woman's issue can just move right into the children, youth and family are a part-time, flexi-time, latch-key day care, all of that.
We had some fascinating hearings on fatherhood, because part of what I keep saying is that we are not going to get changes on a lot of this until we have the men working with us as vigorously as the women. Harvard, once again, has done some phenomenal studies on fatherhood. You know, they have movies showing that a baby identifies with the father as much as the mother at birth. Absolutely astounding movies! What happens is the father then goes into a work setting where he never sees the child. He leaves when the child is in bed, he comes back when the child is in bed. What they articulate so well is that you have a society where you set up the mother as the gate keeper of the child. Now I can even think about that in my own day. My husband would come in and he couldn't understand the children and what they were saying. I was the translator: "They said they want a cookie." That's got to be very difficult. So we started all of that dialogue trying to get the federal government and trying to get everybody else looking at this a bit to find out how we keep fathers very much involved. They used to be. People forget that before World War II almost everything was a ma-and-pa operation. They lived over the store, they lived on the farm, the children saw the father as much as the mother and it really has been the creation of all the separation the father goes away, the mother stays home all that. Where you really polarize it and the whole emphasis on fatherhood and the fatherhood projects going on in some of the major cities, is a very important component of it. So making fatherhood okay again, getting all these things coming forward where we can talk about the needs of children rather as the needs of children than a male versus female issue. That's what we should be doing as a society, and that's how we are moving as much as we can.
I see it all the time in the military. I've been sitting on the Armed Services Committee for 12 years. Time after time a general comes to me and says, "The biggest problem I have is day care." I keep saying, "Terrific, but don't tell me, tell the men on the committee. I'm not surprised that your biggest problem is day care. For a long time my biggest problem was day care." My biggest fear was losing my housekeeper. I can deal with anything but that. So I'm not surprised at all. So I would say, "Tell the men on the Committee that." And they would The sudden burst of talk about a female vice president may very well make possible what no one thought probable as recently as one year ago. There is a "Why not?" spirit to the question. And why not a woman as president?
More importantly, the new feminist awareness in politics makes it more likely that the presidential and vice-presidential nominees, male or female, will be committed to social, political, and economic equality for women.
That commitment, by the way, is nothing more than the Webster's Dictionary definition of "feminism." I always chuckle when I hear someone say, "I'm for equal rights, but I'm not a feminist" as if being a feminist was a misdemeanor. It's like saying "I'm for the free market, but I'm not a capitalist."
The real immediate impact of the gender gap, however, is that women have the power, in numbers, to provide the margin of victory for the next president. If you find that hard to believe, ask the governors of New York, Texas, and Michigan, who were all elected in 1982 with the women's vote.
The number of female elected officials has been slowly increasing, especially at the local and county levels, which serve as farm teams for higher office. At the congressional level, however, the increase has been glacial. Successful female congressional candidates averaged about nine during the 1940s; 14 during the 1950s; 12 in the 1960s; 16 in the 1970s; and is running about 20 in the 1980s. At these increments, women will have reached parity in the House, half the seats, in about 400 years!
Since 1971, when the National Women's Political Caucus began keeping tabs, the number of women mayors has increased from seven to 76, state legislators from 362 to 992, and members of Congress from 15 to 24. With both parties now scurrying to find female candidates for the House and the Senate, we might see a sharp increase in women elected to Congress next year but don't count on it. If women want to increase their numbers in Congress, don't wait to be asked, run! Politics is a game of inches and angles. Women are putting a 5 percent to 15 percent edge on issues of interest to them, increasing their numbers among elected officials, and becoming a leading political indicator, drawing men to their standard.
The legislative agenda that can be moved forward is long overdue. Abigail Adams has been waiting since 1776. I think we are getting much closer to getting it done, and I think it is a very exciting thing to see that the biggest caucus on the Hill is now addressing itself to those issues.