The highest – and toughest – glass ceiling remains unshattered.
This year’s presidential election ultimately was not kind to Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee for a major party, but down-ballot, some of the election’s female candidates made history.
From the Senate and the House to statehouses across the country, female challengers won office. The US Senate will welcome four new female members.
“I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now,” Clinton said in her concession speech Wednesday.
And for some women who were running, the words rang true.
Cracked but not shattered: 20 women on Clinton’s run
Somali-American Ilhan Omar was elected to the Minnesota House, making history by becoming the first Somali-American legislator in the United States. The mother of three, a member of Minnesota’s Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, is a former Somali refugee who lived at the camps for the displaced in Kenya.
“My neighbors, everyone here in this room, represent what we as a nation want to be: united in our diversity,” she said in her victory speech.
“Longtime residents, East African immigrants and students – we came together and engaged in the political progress. We talked about the issues that concern us and we connected on the future we want to create.”
Zena Stephens also made history by being the first African-American woman to be elected to the office of sheriff in Texas. The Democrat defeated Ray Beck in Jefferson County, Texas.
The Senate will see the first female biracial senators, the first Latina senator and the first Thai-born senator.
The incoming Democratic senator for Illinois, Tammy Duckworth, unseated incumbent Mark Kirk, who had wrongly mocked her assertion that the half-Thai politician’s family’s military legacy could be traced back to the Revolutionary War.
He later apologized but the damage was done, and the Iraq war veteran, who lost both her legs when the Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting crashed, won her race with 54.4% of the vote.
Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris becomes the state’s first senator of Indian descent – and the country’s first black female senator since 1999. She succeeds Barbara Boxer. The Democrat, along with Duckworth, is biracial, another first for the national legislature. Her mother is Indian, and her father is from Jamaica.
Democrat and former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto replaces Senate minority leader Harry Reid, who leaves office after serving the state of Nevada for 30 years. She holds the distinction of being the first Latina to serve in the Senate.
Maggie Hassan, another Democrat, unseated her Republican rival Kelly Ayotte in the New Hampshire Senate race.
Closing gender gap in Washington is slow work
Eight female challengers were elected to the House on Tuesday. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Liz Cheney won in Wyoming.
The Republican joins Nannette Barragan, D-California, Lisa Blunt, D-Delaware, Stephanie Murphy, D-Florida, Val Demmings, D-Florida, Carol Shea-Porter, D-New Hampshire, Claudia Tenney, R-New York, and Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, as freshmen representatives.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the state where Sen. Harry Reid has served. It is Nevada.