There’s an old joke about a husband who is describing how he and his wife divide their decision-making responsibilities. Oh, he says, I handle the big things, he assures an acquaintance. You know, how we vote, our position on international affairs, problems with the economy, and such. And your wife? he is asked. Well, she handles the day-to-day decisions. Such as? Where the kids go to school, what we eat, how much money we save when it’s time for a new car, that sort of little day-to-day thing.
And doesn’t that sound like a pretty good reason to send more women to serve in the United States Congress? Issues that face families, that face everyday Americans, might get dealt with. Imagine that.
Turns out it’s true: Studies show that when more women serve in Congress, more issues concerning women and families get raised, examined, and, wonder of wonders, often acted on (set aside the Equal Rights Amendment for a moment, or for 42 years). And what might these “women’s issues” be? Oh, things such as hunger among young children and old people, early education, poverty in general, and sexual harassment affecting both sexes. That sort of thing.
Even beyond that, it’s been shown over and over that having women in legislative bodies, on corporate boards, and on all sorts of committees brings a needed balance to the proceedings.
Does this mean that women are wiser legislators? Not necessarily, but they can often be worker bees, burrowing into committees to hash out details that the big-picture guys “don’t have time for.” You don’t get a lot of TV time for committee work. You don’t get Twitter fame. But sometimes, sometimes, you get results.
With that in mind, Prime Women is embarking on a modest project with an ambitious goal. Over the next year, we will be publishing stories about women over the age of 50 serving in Congress. The stories will cross the aisle – Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative. The stories aren’t about the women’s politics but about who they are – sometimes what motivated them to engage in public life with all of its positives and pitfalls, sometimes about the interests that allow them to lead rich lives outside the halls of Congress. We may discover (and share) a recipe or two, uncover a fascinating ancestor or explore a favorite charity. We may even uncover a woman or two with time for a hobby!
Why do we say that our goal is ambitious? It’s because we’re hoping that by highlighting these sometimes-remote figures, names often buried in newspaper columns, we might fire up your interest in getting out there, and getting involved. Whether it’s at a local or a national level, in the state legislature or the grade-school PTA . . . the Congress, the world, need women to tackle the big stuff. And especially the “little day-to-day things.”