A History of Women in Politics

Danielle Bliss
 | Nov 05, 2018

Tracey A. Leigh ​as Rep. Sydney Millsap in Kings.

In Sarah Burgess’s political comedy, Kings, currently playing on the Segerstrom Stage (through Nov. 10, 2018), women take on strong and important roles. While the plays' lobbyists and congresswoman are fictional, women have played pivotal roles throughout history shaping the world we currently inhabit. Read on to learn about the history of women in politics.


Abigail Adams (1744 - 1818)

Wife of President John Adams, she opposed slavery and was a strong advocate for women’s rights and education. Adams’ famous quote, “remember the ladies” led her to influence her husband not to “put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.”

Hattie_Caraway_cph.3b11365Hattie Wyatt Caraway (1878 - 1950 )

She became the first woman elected to serve as a United States Senator for a full term representing Arkansas. Caraway was the first woman to preside over the Senate and won the reelection to a full term in 1932 with the active support of Senator Huey Long of Louisiana.


EleanorRooseveltEleanor Roosevelt (1884 - 1962)

She served as First Lady for 12 years, the longest in history. Her work promoted Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration and her own public policy interests through the use of nationwide press conferences, radio segments and opinion pieces in newspapers. She ​created the activist role of the First Lady, and was later appointed a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly by Harry S. Truman (after FDR died). She also served as the first chairperson of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

220px-Margaret_Chase_SmithMargaret Chase Smith (1897 - 1995 )

She was the first woman to serve in both houses of the United States Congress (House & Senate). She was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1964 presidential election and the first woman to be placed in nomination for the presidency at a major party's convention. To date, she is the longest-serving Republican woman in the Senate.


LandonNancyNancy Kassebaum (1932 - )

Kassebaum was the first woman ever to be elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate without her husband having previously served in Congress. She was also the second woman elected to a Senate seat without it being held first by her husband. She was the first woman to represent Kansas in the Senate. 

SandraDayOConnorSandra Day O'Connor (1930 - )

Nominated by President Ronald Reagan, she was the first female Supreme Court ​justice. She was widely known for upholding states’ rights and was often a swing vote. She’s ​known for letting Roe v. Wade stand in a woman's right to abortion cases, rejecting challenges to the use of affirmative action in higher education and for writing the opinion reiterating that all U.S. citizens are entitled to due process in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld—in which she stated that “a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens.”

DianneFeinstinDianne Feinstein (1933 - )

Feinstein has been California senator since 1992. During her time in the nation's capiral in this role, she’s helped create AMBER alerts and the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. She was the first woman to chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She ​was the first woman mayor of San Francisco.

ruth_bader_ginsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg (1933 - ) Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She was the first woman to serve on two major law reviews (Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review). She was also the first tenured female Columbia Law School professor and co-author of the first casebook on sex discrimination. 

madeleinealbrightMadeleine Albright (1937 - )

Albright became the first woman to be U.S. Secretary of State, the first highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government. She used her position to advocate for human rights, ​for NATO to intervene in Kosovo in 1999 and to help U.S. relations with China and Vietnam. She became the first Secretary of State to travel to North Korea.

NancyPelosiNancy Pelosi (1940 - )

Pelosi became the highest-ranking elected female leader in the U.S. when she was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007. She played a big role in pushing through President Obama’s health care law as well as the law that raised fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles for the first time in 32 years. She pushed for the first federal minimum wage increase in a decade as well as the largest college aid expansion since the G.I. bill.


HillaryClintonHillary Clinton (1947 - )

Clinton was the first woman to be nominated by a major party for the office of President of the United States in 2016. She was the first First Lady to have an office in the West Wing and she successfully worked with members of Congress on the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Before running for the White House, she was the first woman to serve as a U.S. Senator from New York (2001-09) and served as Secretary of State (2009-13) in the Obama Administration.

Learn more about Kings and buy tickets.