In all the chatter about Hillary Clinton – and whether she should be elected president – it’s easy to forget just how much of a winner she’s always been – and how this coincided with a time when opportunities for women were beginning to expand.
I was reminded of this by a Bloomberg article titled ‘Hillary Clinton’s Debt to Feminism’. Click here to read the piece. It’s a timeline – of Mrs Clinton’s life and that of the glass ceiling for women in America – and it illustrates how the two often ran parallel. And that if Hillary hadn’t been exceptional, she would never have been able to take advantage of the changing opportunities available to her.
For instance, in 1964, the young Hillary Rodham (a senior in high school) was of Republican persuasion and campaigned for the party’s presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. It was the year that a Republican woman senator, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, became the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for president at a party convention. She came second to Goldwater.
By 1965, when Hillary has enrolled at Wellesley College to major in political science and serve as president of the Young Republicans Club, 45 per cent of all college freshmen in the US are female. In 1966, the National Organization for Women is founded.
Hillary’s star quality – she would never want to be a wallflower, an ignored ‘other’, a silent witness – meant that she would always play a lead role in everything.
In 1968, she was elected president of Wellesley’s student government.
In 1969, she became the first student to speak at a Wellesley commencement and significantly, spoke for the young of the time when she chided Massachusetts Republican Senator Edward Brooke for supporting the Vietnam war. She enrolls at Yale Law School and in 1970, when the Yale Review of Law and Social Action publishes its first issue, Hillary is on the board of editors. It is also the year she speaks at the 50th Anniversary convention of the League of Women Voters. After graduating (in 1973) from law school, one of 27 women in a class of 235, she joins the House inquiry staff to impeach Richard Nixon – she is one of three women on the staff of 44 lawyers.
In 1974, she joins the faculty of the University of Arkansas School of Law, one of just two female members of faculty.
In 1978, she is appointed by President Jimmy Cater the first woman chair of the Legal Services Corporation, which provides civil legal assistance to Americans who can’t afford it.
After three years of working at Rose Law Firm (as its first female associate) she becomes its first female partner in 1979.
In 1986, Hillary becomes the first woman to sit on the board of Wal-Mart and a year later, she is first chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, which is created to address the gender bias among lawyers.
In 1992, when her husband is elected president of the United States, she is the first FLOTUS (first lady of the United States) to have a law degree. Bill had done what many men had done before him; Hillary what no one had.
That’s Mrs Clinton. A star. It’s just not clear if she should be president.