Kamala Harris Is First Woman, and Woman of Color, Elected Vice President

Kamala Harris Is First Woman, and Woman of Color, Elected Vice President

November 7, 20202 min read

History was made on Saturday, November 7, when Kamala Harris was elected vice president of the United States, 100 years after women first won the right to vote.

"Although our new president will look like almost all the others we have had in our history, the fact that we will have a woman of color in the second highest position in our executive branch for the first time ever has an importance that cannot be understated," says Teresa Boyer, EdD, director of the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women's Leadership at Villanova University. "When it comes to our highest office, Americans have been famously resistant and behind other countries in selecting a woman for the role. Perhaps having a woman in the vice presidency could shift that barrier that we haven't seemed to get past."

Dr. Boyer adds, "We will also have a record number of women in this congressional delegation. Although Democrats have historically sent the most women to Congress, this year, the Republicans are the ones who set a record, with at least 32 women in the House and Senate—two more than their previous record of 20 in 2006. Democrats still have the greater representation of women, though, with at least 102."

"Themes of gender and race have been threaded throughout this election, as they underlie many of the crises we are currently facing as a nation. The tight races mixed with progress on women's representation indicate a national culture on the cusp of change—one exploring openness to diverse identities in the role of public leader. Not so much a wave as a slow inching forward—but forward nonetheless."

"Many have said Biden will be a transitional president—due to his age, and his role as a party elder—but perhaps he would be better noted as a potentially transformational president, or a conduit to the diverse America reflected in our leadership."

Connect with:
  • Teresa Boyer, EdD
    Teresa Boyer, EdD Founding Director, Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women's Leadership; Associate Professor, Education and Counseling

    Teresa Boyer, EdD, is an innovative leader in economic and social equity for women

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