Singer Helen Reddy proudly belted out in her 1972 number one hit “I Am Woman” – with the refrain, “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore” – and for a brief time in the ‘70s women across America heralded that song as their anthem as they walked briskly toward the future.
Yet, in 2014 the numbers are not too big to ignore, at least in the political and public-service sector.
The Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics website reveals the following: Of the 50 states, only five have female governors and 11 with lieutenant governors. In Congress, out of 100 senators, 40 are women, 16 Democrat and 4 Republican. In the House, with 435 members, 79 are women with 60 registered as Democrats and 23 Republican.
The number of women currently serving in the Obama administration in a cabinet or cabinet-level position is seven.
Forty-five women have held a total of 50 cabinet or cabinet-level appointments in the history of our nation. Of those 45, 28 had cabinet posts, including two who headed two different departments. Two more women held both a cabinet post and a position defined as cabinet-level. Twenty-eight of these women were appointed by Democratic presidents and 17 by Republicans. Ten presidents (four Democrats and six Republicans) have appointed women to their cabinets.
Rutgers notes that while President Truman did not appoint any women, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, a holdover from the Roosevelt administration, served in his cabinet.
Of the 1,351 mayors of U.S. cities with populations of more than 30,000, 249, or 18.4 percent, are women.
You can add one more to that number, for Independence voters last week elected 4th District Council Member Eileen Weir to succeed popular Mayor Don Reimal who declined to seek a third four year term. I always found Mayor Reimal to be accessible, forthright and a proud native of his beloved Queen City.
Weir joins Barbara Potts (1982-1990) as the only two female Independence mayors since William McCoy became the city’s first mayor on July 18, 1849.
As women continue their roar, especially for equal pay with men in the work place, will they finally shatter that final ultimate American obstacle in 2016 – that desk in the Oval Office? Perhaps we will know in 32 months.
Until then I wish Mayor-elect Weir a successful term in office and give a “thank you” Don Reimal for his public service.
I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.