Ferraro Legacy: A Timeline of Women in National Politics

Geraldine Ferraro died on Saturday in Boston. Ferraro served as Walter Mondale’s running mate in the 1984 presidential election and was the first female and Italian-American to do so.

Ferraro succumbed to multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood and rare diagnosis. In the 12 years during which the illness affected her, Ferraro worked as a news commentary contributor on two major networks and supported Hillary Clinton’s run for presidency.

Ferraro inspired females of all ages and set the precedent for women in national politics.

1984: Geraldine Ferraro Accepts VP Candidate Nomination

Ferraro is most remembered for her work on the Mondale campaign of 1984. Ferraro served as the first female vice presidential candidate for a major political party in the United States.

Prior to her VP run, Ferraro served in Congress. Ferraro was a school teacher and held multiple degrees and served as a lawyer in private practice and as a district attorney in Queens, New York.

During her VP candidacy, Ferraro was the target of many gender-biased insults from her opponents.

Ferraro was noted for making political issues personal. She addressed issues such as war drafting and abortion by remarking on her own life and familial situations.

2001: Condoleezza Rice Becomes National Security Adviser, Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice served as the 66th secretary of state. Rice was second female to achieve this position (after Madeleine Albright in the Clinton administration) as well as the second African-American to hold this office (after Colin Powell).

Rice was charged with representing and defending the George W. Bush administration, often plagued by foreign disapproval of the war in Iraq. Representing the Republican Party, Rice is noted for her loyalty and efficiency.

Rice was also appointed as National Security Adviser during the Bush administration. Rice was the first woman to hold this position.

Beyond her political accomplishments, Rice is regarded as a useful thinker and strategist. Gifted with a creative mind, Rice is also an accomplished musician. She presently works in the private sector at Stanford University.

2008: Hillary Clinton Runs for President; Becomes Secretary of State

As a former senator and first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton was never known for being passive. As wife of President Bill Clinton, Hillary pursued an active role in health care reform and used her legal background to advise the president on national issues.

In 2008, Clinton used personal and funds raised through HillPAC to run for president. Clinton narrowly lost the nomination for the Democratic Party to Barack Obama, but later accepted the position of Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.

Because of trailblazers such as Ferraro, Rice and Clinton, the numbers of women in politics and political studies has increased. In 2009, 17 female senators served concurrently.