Pat Schroeder Visits Lynn And Shares Her Hopes For Women
Former presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder opened up to iPulse staff in a private interview and gave an inspiring speech in the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center about her career as a congresswoman and the challenges that she faced as a woman in politics.
Schroeder received her Bachelor of the Arts degree in history from the University of Minnesota in 1961 before pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Harvard Law School.
“I thought I knew a lot about history. Once I got into Congress and started looking at things, I realized that maybe it was his-story,” said Schroeder. “I think one of the problems we have had in pushing women’s rights is that people have this [false] idea that men came here on dangerous sail boats and fought their way through the country, and women came over on cruise ships.”
Schroeder went on to highlight important women who have been largely forgotten by history textbooks such as Sybil Ludington, the woman who rode 40 miles to notify America’s revolutionary army that the British were coming. Schroeder feels that women’s rights in America have improved and continue to improve at a much slower pace than they should.
“[Women’s rights] are shifting so slowly I can hardly stand it,” said Schroeder. “The first convention asking for women to vote was in 1848. In 1920, we finally got 38 states, and then, finally, the equal rights amendment was introduced in 1923.”
True social and political equality for women in America is still lacking according to Schroeder. Schroeder pointed to examples such as the statistical lack of female representation on boards of corporations and in positions such as company CEOs or CFOs to illustrate her point. Schroeder also referenced Congress itself, criticizing the fact that only 23.2 percent of Congress consists of women despite women making up about half of America’s population.
With women still integrating themselves into political positions and other career fields, Schroeder gave a piece of advice to women who may find themselves intimidated by being the only woman in a room full of men:
“I find you kind of have to have a sense of humor, and it’s very hard,” said Schroeder. “Too often, we get mad, and I just think it’s more fun to make it a joke so both [parties] can laugh. Hopefully, they’ll learn something.”
Schroeder ended her speech with an inspiring and light-hearted story regarding her granddaughter who moved to France. Schroeder’s granddaughter was nervous to be in a new school and country, but she decided to run for class president so she could make friends and practice her French.
“I thought [to myself]: I do not know a woman my age that would have done that, so maybe we have made some progress,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder concluded her remarks by expressing her hope that the younger generation of women coming up will not be saddled by the fears of her own generation.
“If we somehow can take away that fear from this younger generation, that’s the hope,” said Schroeder. “Maybe they’re gonna make it.”