Growing a Woman President

Even before the results are in, Hawaii's gubernatorial election this November has shattered the proverbial glass ceiling for women. Both Republican and Democratic candidates are female.

In five other states, women running for governor stand a chance of winning, possibly doubling the number of female governors. More likely, though, pollsters say women could win in seven states, up from the current five. Even that would be a record.

Just 19 women in US history have been governors, many of them widows or relatives of former governors. But this year, nearly that many are running for the job.

In the US Senate, meanwhile, the number of women could go from 13 to 15. In the House, from 60 to 63.

Year by year, as more qualified women run, more voters are getting used to voting for them. The momentum still needs to build, but more woman are learning the political ropes in state legislatures, breaking past what remains of old-boy networks in legislatures, and either finding political mentors or serving as mentors for other women.

The novelty of having women as politicians is wearing off fast, as it has in many professions. But it's important for the US to have a large portion of female governors for one simple reason: four of the last five presidents were former governors. If the US ever wants a woman in the Oval Office, the training ground is in the statehouses.

All this progress might put a smile on the face of the country's first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross. She was sworn in as Wyoming's governor in 1924. One contributing factor was that Wyoming was the first state (then a territory) to give women the vote, way back in 1869.

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