The Honorable Patricia Scott Schroeder
Patricia Scott Schroeder began her 24-year career in Congress as a mother with two young children and evolved into a national leader determined to use her elected position as an advocate for women and families. A tireless supporter of women’s rights, she went from winning a spot on the Armed Services Committee—despite the chairman’s objections—to leading the Congresswomen’s Caucus.
U.S. Representative from Colorado (January 3, 1973–January 3, 1997)
As a passionate and outspoken feminist, Patricia (Pat) Scott Schroeder emerged as a national spokesperson for women’s rights during her 24 years in the House. Schroeder’s unlikely path to Congress in 1973—as a young mother of two with little financial backing and no state or national party support—surprised experts and delighted supporters. In an era with few incentives or support networks for working mothers, Schroeder learned to navigate the halls of Congress juggling a young family and politics. In her interview, she addresses balancing motherhood and her career and describes the obstacles women faced when she first arrived at the Capitol, including inadequate bathroom and exercise facilities, restricted areas set aside for men, and the refusal of some male Members to treat their female colleagues as equals. Schroeder recalls the formation and evolution of the Congresswomen’s Caucus and considered how the organization helped Congresswomen bolster their position despite their small numbers.
Not interested in blending in or waiting for change to occur, Schroeder adopted a more aggressive approach as a woman in Congress. She describes how she championed many issues affecting women during her time in the House—pay equity, job protection for family and medical leave, and women’s health—and recalls her participation in the memorable protest march by women Representatives to the Senate on behalf of Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Colorado Representative also explains how, after winning her first election as a vocal antiwar activist, she earned a seat on the Armed Services Committee and used her position to help women in the military. Having first arrived in the House when women Representatives were rare, Schroeder later mentored many Congresswomen during her political career.
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