Year of the Woman

The Year of the Woman was a popular label attached to 1992 after the election of a number of female Senators in the United States.

The hotly contested Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas involving the allegations of Anita Hill raised the question of the dominance of men in the Senate.

In 1991, the Senate included two female members, but neither Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas nor Barbara Mikulski of Maryland served on the Judiciary Committee. Allegedly, Washington State senate member Patty Murray decided to run for election after watching these hearings.

While Murray set out to raise the necessary funds, two other women several hundred miles to the south in California began work on their own Senate campaigns. As a result, on January 3, 1993, for the first time in American history, California became the first state in the nation to be represented in the Senate by two women. In the 1992 elections, Dianne Feinstein, a former Democratic mayor of San Francisco, running for the balance of an uncompleted term, beat her opponent with a margin of nearly two million votes, while Barbara Boxer—a 10-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives who had joined six of her Democratic women colleagues in a march on the Senate to urge greater attention to Anita Hill's charges—solidly won a full term.

A week after the election, a popular "Washington Post" photograph illustrated the situation. Standing with exultant Democratic Majority Leader George Mitchell were not only Feinstein and Boxer, but also Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and Patty Murray of Washington. Never before had four women been elected to the Senate in a single election year.

When the newcomers joined incumbents Kassebaum and Mikulski in January 1993, headline-writers described the occurrence as "The Year of the Woman." In response, Senator Mikulski said, "Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We're not a fad, a fancy, or a year."

Other information

*Since 1992, "Year of the Woman" has become a sort of cliché and it has been applied to other areas like business, film, and sports.
*Not to be confused with Sandra Hochman's 1973 film "Year of the Woman", documenting the 1972 Democratic National Convention and Shirley Chisholm's candidacy.


* [ Adapted from Senate Website, a product of the US government]

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