The `Year of the Woman'

Regarding the editorial "Gains for Women," Nov. 6: With 24 women winning new seats in the United States House, it looks as if this could reasonably be called the "Year of the Woman."

It is important to note, however, that 22 of these new congresswomen were running for open seats. Redistricting based on the 1990 census, record retirements by incumbents, and primary defeats due to the check-bouncing scandal in the House produced a record number of open seats, a situation not likely to be seen again for many years.

Only two of the 42 female candidates who challenged incumbent congressmen were successful. This indicates that unseating entrenched incumbents is still very unlikely.

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If we wish to see growth in female participation in the US Congress, we must have significant campaign-reform legislation and some form of term limitations. Without further changes in our election process, we will not see real gender balance in the leadership of our country. George A. Dean, Southport, Conn. The real Hillary

President-elect Bill Clinton could not have done it without Hillary Clinton. His wife had to refashion her persona to shift into an image of a First Lady; an image that the eyes of mainstream voters could recognize. Call it the "before" and "after" Hillary Clinton make-over.

The "before" Hillary kept her maiden name, Rodham. She was a professional, a graduate of Yale Law School, and a partner in a prominent law firm. The "after" Hillary metamorphosed into a full-time candidate's wife and mother who sported a blond hairstyle and dueled chocolate-chip cookie recipes with First Lady Barabara Bush. Mrs. Clinton's decision to change her image should be respected. I hope that post-election, however, her considerable professional and intellectual capabilities might be more fully ut ilized. She has certainly paid her dues. Sandra M. Slotnick, Williamsport, Pa. US rail system not `outdated'

In the front-page article "Domestic Concerns Top US Presidential Agenda," Nov. 4, the author perpetuates a myth that the Monitor should know better than to allow. The author states, "The nation is struggling with an outdated railway system, crumbling bridges and highways, poor schools, and polluted air and water." The author may be correct in how he describes the others, but he is completely off the mark in describing our railroads as "outdated." The nation's rail system is in better physical and financi al shape than in decades, and most of the major carriers have weathered the recession well.

Our company, like the other railroads, is finding innovative, energy-efficient, and cost-effective ways to move the nation's commerce, and our industry will be a major player in the global economic tidal wave that is coming. Robert C. Fort, Norfolk, Va. Asst. Vice Pres., Norfolk Southern Corp. Airplane baby seats and the FAA

In the article "Despite Pressure, FAA Won't Require Airplane Baby Seats," Oct. 15, the author fails to mention how airlines would be forced to absorb the cost of such regulation. There are two possible consequences if Congress passes new legislation. One, the airlines would be forced to raise the price of tickets to all passengers to absorb the loss that they would incur; or two, airlines would be forced to make cuts in safety inspections.

When infants fly, it should be the parents' responsibility to pay the bill, not other passengers' or the airlines'. Government regulation - where does it end? Allen Young, Sheffield, Ala.

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