Podcast: When women came to Washington

Podcast: When women came to Washington

A century ago, a photographer snapped an unusual portrait on the Capitol's East Front. It shows members of Congress in the round, in two rows — one seated, one standing. Some are holding their hats, others are puffing on cigars.

What makes the photo unusual is the person right in the middle, framed perfectly by the Capitol Building itself. In a sea of men, the person in the middle is a woman.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Rep. Jeannette Rankin's (R-Mont.) arrival in Washington, where she became the first woman sworn into Congress. She was a national sensation — she had to hire extra secretaries just to handle the flow of mail — and she boosted the cause of women's suffrage, by helping to lead a committee looking into what would become the 19th Amendment.

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A hundred years later, about 300 women have served in Congress, and today about 20 percent of the House and Senate are made up of women. And there are signs that a new wave of women is about to make their voices heard in American politics.

Check out this week’s episode on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or your favorite podcast platform.