As newcomers to the U.S. Congress, women sought equal treatment on the job. Initially excluded from some areas of the Capitol, such as the House Gym, women used diverse methods to break down institutional barriers and to attain equal access to influential committee assignments and leadership positions. This collection of stories reveals how women negotiated these challenges to alter the social, cultural, and political norms of Congress, all while balancing work and family life.
Protest in the Senate
The Honorable Lynn C. Woolsey recalls visiting the Senate with other House Members to discuss discrimination against women with Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
The Honorable Helen Delich Bentley recalls her conversation with Congresswoman Margaret Heckler of Massachusetts about why she refused a high-ranking position on the Federal Maritime Commission.
Gender, Age, and Congress
The Honorable Claudine Schneider discusses her constituents' range of opinions about electing a woman to Congress.
Support from Speaker O'Neill
Muftiah McCartin shares a personal memory of Speaker Tip O'Neill of Massachusetts, who refused her resignation.
"Those Machines Only Build Muscles"
The Honorable Nancy Lee Johnson protests inequalities in the separate House gym facilities for men and women.
Salary of a Married Woman
Patricia Schwartz describes the way marital status created inequalities in pay.
Race and Gender
The Honorable Yvonne Brathwaite Burke discusses the challenges she faced as an African-American woman.
Accessing the Boys' Club
Kathy Gille reflects on what she learned as the lone woman among floor assistants.
The Honorable Sue Myrick recalls working with other women to break House tradition surrounding women's attire.
"There Were No Women on that Committee"
The Honorable Sue W. Kelly explains how gender could serve as an obstacle in Congress.