EDITORIAL: Riding the pink wave
Politics is still a man's world, but after the midterm election, more women than ever will be stepping into the U.S. Capitol and into state capitols across the country.
With some ballots still being counted, more than 100 women are set to take office in the U.S. House of Representatives in January, blowing away the previous record of 84 women in the House. The new congresswomen include four, all Democrats from suburban Philadelphia districts, who will join the formerly all-male Pennsylvania delegation.
York County joined in the pink wave, with Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, becoming the first woman to represent the county in the state Senate and one of 12 women in the state Senate, more than doubling the current five in the 50-seat chamber.
Phillips-Hill said she hoped people hadn't voted for her solely because of her gender, but since she was running against Democrat Judith Higgins, there was small chance of that.
"It's very humbling," Phillips-Hill said of her win. "To look at those numbers and see so many people believed in you."
York has had a robust female presence in the state House for years and will continue that, with Reps. Carol Hill Evans, D-York City; Dawn Keefer, R-Carroll Township; and Kate Klunk, R-Hanover, easily winning office again. Phillips-Hill's former seat in the 93rd House District will go to Republican Mike Jones.
The election turned the U.S. House over to Democratic control, meaning minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will likely become the Speaker of the House — again. Pelosi was the first woman speaker, 2007-2011, and she would be just the fourth person to return to the post after losing the House to the opposing party, then regaining it.
With Democrats in control, several women will take leadership positions in important House committees: Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., will chair the Appropriations Committee, Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the Financial Services Committee, and Julia Brownley, D-Calif., the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Several states elected women as governors, including Kansas and Michigan. In Michigan, every statewide election — governor, U.S. senator, attorney general and secretary of state — was won by a woman.
And it doesn't end there. In Nevada, an outpouring of activism by women ended with the ousting of an incumbent U.S. senator and female majorities in the federal delegation and the state Assembly.
The first two female Muslims will take seats in the U.S. House in January, along with the first two female Native Americans.
In Houston, 17 African-American women won elections to become judges in a "Black Girl Power" joint campaign.
Women still have a long way to go toward full representation: 51 percent of Americans are female, and even with the new record, they hold fewer than 25 percent of the seats in the U.S. House. Women will have 24 seats in the Senate next year, also a record, but still hardly representative of the electorate.
Still, the pink wave brings in a much-needed female perspective as the country continues to struggle with topics such as health care, the wage gap and immigration. Maybe we can see fewer panels of solely old white men making decisions that will affect the rest of us.