Today, a Trinity Woman made history. Shortly after noon, Nancy Pelosi, Class of 1962, took the oath of office as Speaker of the House of the Congress of the United States. She is now the highest ranking elected woman in our nation’s history, the first woman Speaker of the House. Click here to see a video clip of her first remarks as Speaker:
Yesterday, there were a lot of goose bumps and wide smiles as members of the Trinity family gathered with Speaker Pelosi’s family and friends to pray with her, invoking the blessings of the Trinity on her important work, and to share the pride and excitement of this historic moment for our nation, for women’s advancement, and for Trinity. Members of the Green Class of 1962 were everywhere, it seemed, beaming with pride in the accomplishments of their “Sister Speaker” while extolling the virtues of their Trinity days. For at least a few days, the Class of ’62 may lay claim to being “the greatest” — though others will quickly rise to that challenge! — but even that great member of the (also Green) Class of 1958 the Honorable Barbara Bailey Kennelly (Trinity’s first woman in Congress, whose many achievements blazed the trail for Nancy Pelosi) was bursting with pride for the achievements of her sister alumna from ’62. Hmm. I’m counting all those Green Class success stories!
110 seems to be an auspicious number right now. Trinity is entering the 110th year since our founding. Nancy Pelosi is the 110th Speaker of the House.
Many articles over the last few days have addressed this historic moment for women’s leadership, and the still-high hurdles for women entering politics. 90 women will be Senators and Representatives in the 110th Congress, the largest group of women ever in our federal legislature. Yet, this number falls well behind the proportion of women serving in legislatures in other nations. The United States is also well behind when it comes to women being taken seriously as presidential candidates. Trinity needs to be addressing these issues more directly, and in the months ahead our long-awaited Trinity Institute for Women’s Leadership will take shape through a series of public forums and symposia on the critical issues facing women preparing to enter public life.
To paraphrase Speaker Pelosi herself, today we have made history, but tomorrow we must make progress more rapidly. Nancy Pelosi’s achievement has cracked the marble ceiling of women’s leadership at the highest political levels. Will history prove this moment to be a genuine shattering of the barrier, or merely a crack that will settle back into place as the years go on? Look no further than across the Capitol front yard to the Supreme Court to realize that women’s gains in securing high offices can be painfully slow to grow beyond the unusual one or two. The revolution has advanced, but it’s far from over — and won’t be truly won until the day arrives when women winning the positions of Speaker, Leader, Supreme Court Justice, Vice President or President are not considered unusual or rare cases.