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.

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.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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