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The 2016 presidential election introduced Hillary Clinton as America’s first female presidential nominee. Now, Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman to occupy an executive role in United States history. The 2020 election boasted the strongest field of female candidates in American history. As the political glass ceilings are shattering, one may ask, when did this change begin?
The answer lies in Helena, Montana in 1916, with a victorious Jeannette Rankin, who had just been elected the first female to the U.S. Congress. This seminar provides an intentional focus on the overlooked political career of Jeannette Rankin.
Each session will contextualize the history that shaped her politics and activism. By examining the journey of Jeannette Rankin’s historic two terms in Congress, students in this seminar will gain a better understanding of Jeannette Rankin’s role in America’s history, and her lasting impact for female politicians.
Mary Kettering teaches Social Sciences at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. She earned her B.A. in Political Science & History at the University of Montana and her Masters in Women and Gender Studies at Trinity College in Ireland. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Political Science at UIC.
This is an optional assignment that can be completed before our first seminar: Kate Walbert, "Has Anything Changed for Female Politicians? Familiar Echoes in the candidacy of Jeannette Rankin the First Female Elected to Congress." The New Yorker, August 16, 2016.