MAKING HISTORY: Pat Schroeder Becomes Longest Serving Woman in Congress
In honor of Women's History Month, we are celebrating with 31 days of women's history! Every day in March, we will highlight an historic moment, as told through the personal stories of our MAKERS. Today we highlight former United States Congresswoman, Pat Schroeder, who served on the House of Representatives for 24 years, making her the longest serving woman in Congress.
Persevering through overt sexism at Harvard Law School, Schroeder earned her J.D. in 1964 and moved to Denver, Colorado with her husband start a family. She took a job with the federal government and, with the encouragement of her husband, entered the 1972 Congressional race. Despite her grassroots campaign, she won, making her the first woman elected to Congress from Colorado. It would be the first of 12 successful elections over 20 years.
In Washington, Schroeder had to once more overcome sexism amid Congress's "Boys' Club".
"I used to give this speech about how every year for Christmas my husband and I wanted the same thing, we both wanted a wife."
With her unique wit, cunning way with words, strength, and intelligence, she became a force to be reckoned with as she took on popular liberal issues as well as those she felt she was responsible for as one of the rare women representatives. Her accomplishments in Congress include being the first woman to serve on the Armed Services Committee, crafting the 1985 Military Family Act, co-founding the Congressional Women's Caucus, and putting women's rights and family reform in the spotlight with the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Throughout her 24 years in service, she typically garnered more than 60 percent of the vote and little opposition.