History made by number of women sworn into congress

Lisa Lillianstrom

A total of 127 women were sworn into Congress Jan. 3 as a result of the 2018 midterm elections, marking the largest number of women ever elected and proving the future is, in fact, female.

Not only is there a large number of women in Congress, there are also quite a few firsts: the first Muslim women Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Native American women Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, who is also the first LGBTQ+ member of Congress and the youngest woman elected, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. There are even a few women who are the first female senators, representatives and governors in their states.

“The fact [these women] got elected in the first place shows America is going to elect more women in the future,” senior business major Rose Gallagher said. “They’ll do what they can, but their legacy will hopefully stand.”

Naperville native, Lauren Underwood was sworn in as the youngest African-American woman to serve in Congress at age 32. She will be serving as the U.S. Representative in Illinois’ 14th congressional district, which includes DeKalb.

Underwood is a nurse who previously worked for the Obama administration, and she defeated Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren, who was elected in 2011.

“[Underwood] is the youngest black woman to serve in Congress, [and] she beat an incumbent, which I think is pretty impressive,” Ally Sloka, junior actuarial science major, said.

One of Underwood’s priorities is healthcare, and she is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act.

Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to be sworn into Congress at age 29. She plans to take action for progressive policies such as Medicare for All, which includes full vision, dental and mental healthcare, a job guarantee, tuition-free public college, ending the privatization of prisons and enacting gun-control policies.

While Ocasio-Cortez is going in with limited political experience, she already appears to be influential, and her followers on social media are saying she should run for president in 2024.

“[Ocasio-Cortez] is a whip-smart, incredibly open person who wants to make America run better,” Gallagher said. “The trolls have focused in on her because she’s that charismatic and dynamic. I’d vote for gender, and that makes them more determined to rock the boat.”

Female legislators are more likely to introduce bills important to women and families, such as issues on child welfare and education. Education is important in a child’s life and most vulnerable to budget cuts; hopefully, these women can help keep schools from shutting down and aid students in their journeys toward a better future.

Due to the rise in female representation, Washington D.C. is bound to get interesting.

While no one knows what is going to happen in the next couple of years, there is hope people will see these women as beneficial.

“I feel extremely proud as a woman and feel that this a big milestone for our country,” dining services employee Shae West said. “I hope people see this is good for America’s future.”