WASHINGTON—When Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) involved the Housage of Representatives in 1972 and also was assigned to serve on the Housage Armed Services Committee, her welcome was about as warmth as her house district, Denver, in a howling snowstorm. Then-chairman F. Edward Hebert, an avowed segregationist and an old-bull Dixiecrat, made Schroeder share a seat with Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Oakland), an Afrihave the right to American that had actually been chosen 2 years earlier. At one point in her initially term, Hebert told Schroeder that if she supplied her female body parts--Hebert supposedly offered an additional word--more and also her mouth less, she would go additionally on the committee.

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Schroeder, then one of 14 woguys in the Housage of Representatives, climbed to chair a subcommittee of the defense panel, and became a leading number on numerous powerful Housage panels, before deciding to retire this January, via the start of the 10fifth Congress. The longest-serving woman in Congress picked off nemeses prefer Hebert through a quick wit, a sharp tongue and a determicountry to make government the ally of womales, children and also federal employees, consisting of servicemales and womales.

Getting a jump on the rebellious Watergate course of 1974, Schroeder told all to the push, paving the method for the retirement of Hebert and also many type of of his ilk. Poccupants, too, felt the sting of Schroeder’s tongue: It was Schroeder, for circumstances, that dubbed Ronald Reagan “the Teflon president” and made the label stick.

The Coloraexecute lawmaker, a Harvard-educated attorney and also mom of 2, easily ended up being a champion of liberal reasons ranging from abortion legal rights to legal protection for gays and lesbians. She aided found the bipartisan Congressional Women’s Caucus in 1977. She gone into a crowded field running for the Democratic presidential nomicountry in 1987, promising a “rendezvous with truth.” After increasing to the middle of the area despite a late begin, Schroeder’s campaign rendezvoused via the fact of a fund-elevating shortautumn, and the candiday bowed out tearcompletely.

In 1990, she became the only woman to chair a House committee, the Select Committee on Children, Youth and also Families. (The panel was removed by Republicans as soon as they got control of the Housage in 1994.) Schroeder used the committee to assist shape a Democratic family members agenda that ended up being a centeritem of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. The first piece of regulation that Clinton signed into law--the Family and Medical Leave Act--was Schroeder’s handiwork, in addition to regulations that helped recreate spousal pensions, opened up armed forces tasks to womales and also compelled federally funded clinical researchers to encompass women in their researches.

With her retirement from Congress, Schroeder is slated to teach government and national politics at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilchild School of Public and also Internationwide Affairs. An avowed generalist, Schroeder fears just that academia will try to press her into narrowhead realms of field of expertise. At the very same time, the 56-year-old congresswoguy claims she is prepared for a period of uncharacteristic quiet that will certainly provide her successor, Denver Democrat Diana DeGette, a chance to establish herself in the 105th Congress.


Question:. Is Congress a sexist workplace?

Answer: Yes. When I first gained chosen, someone shelp to me, “This is around Chivas Regal, thousand-dollar bills, Lear jets and beautiful women. Why are you here?” That was simply a component of the equation, for some. Not for all; there’s constantly been wonderful people right here. But for an awful lot of civilization, that was part of the entitlement that went through power. There’s still some of that here--absolutely no question.

Secondly, it’s very competitive, these are all choose class pinhabitants. Part of the game is to try and narrowhead the team whom you think have the right to be genuine players. So if you can keep shutting womales out, that helps you carry out that. I had actually some freshmales womales in yesterday, and also they were appalled. They sassist, “We’ve simply come from the caucus. The guys would certainly hear us attempt to say somepoint and just store on talking.” I shelp, “Hello!?, welpertained to the 105th Congress.” This is what it is.

Q: What did your 1987 bid for the presidency teach you around American politics?

A: Tbelow are whole parts of the nation that had never seen a woguy run for Congress, for Senate. People would say points without realizing just how contradictory they were. They’d say, “I’m so glad you’re running, because the other seven candidates all look aprefer, sound afavor and dress achoose. But you don’t look presidential.” Now, how carry out you take care of that?

Or you would certainly give a speech on some kind of plan, and also civilization would desire to ask around why are you wearing earrings, why aren’t you wearing earrings, why perform you dye your hair, why don’t you dye your hair, why execute you wear green? You’d say, “Can we talk about the speech?”

Finally, it provides you understand the incredible power of the media to specify you, and also I couldn’t figure out what you did around it. Men would certainly say, “Why don’t you want me to vote for you? You just talk to women.” I’d say, “No, no, no . . . I want eexceptionally vote I can gain.” But that’s what they witnessed on TV . . . . Tbelow were seven candidates, and the TV would constantly show Jesse Jackchild with Afrideserve to Americans, and they would always display me with woguys. So exactly how you job-related out that ghettoization was a real concern.

Q: Does it surpincrease you in the end that your crying was the point that stands out in so many type of people’s memories of your presidential bid?

A: Oh, yeah. And it was basically women columnists who hit the hardest on that. I’ve preserved a crying file given that 1987. That was an excellent instance of civilization saying points choose, “Well, never before again deserve to a woguy run for president in my lifetime because she shed tears.” You don’t view anybody saying never aobtain can a guy be governor of New Hampshire because Sununu cried so hard he couldn’t also complete his speech once he was saying goodbye. Or never before aget can a man run for president because I think eextremely single among them has actually shed tears in public currently.

And then human being say, “We don’t desire somebody’s finger on the switch that cries.” Okay, you might conflict that. I don’t want anybody’s finger on the button that doesn’t cry. But everybody that I’ve recognized whose finger has been on the button has been publicly crying.

Q: When carry out you think the country will have actually a womale president?

A: That really need to be the following generation’s No. 1 goal. That is really breaking via the glass ceiling. It would certainly open up up all sorts of things. It’s sort of embarrassing that previous heads of state that are womales are now obtaining all set to create an organization--and we don’t have actually anybody in it. We’re gaining left at the gate. I can’t understand also why.

Q: What execute the Democrats should do if they ever want to reacquire manage of Congress again?

A: They really must be a team rather of a coalition of power brokers. And Gephardt has operated hard to do that. But, really, what you uncover is everybody with their own bit ant hill and they don’t want to be told what to carry out with their ant hill. So, on eextremely single issue, you’re ago out trying to put together some kind of a coalition.

Congressional Democrats also need to be able to say what they’re for. Each one of them is for something various. You’ve obtained to have some kind of a theme. It doesn’t expect you can’t have distinctions, yet what are the core principles? I think that’s very, very tough to view right now.

Q: Are Democrats constitutionally qualified of the sort of company and discipline it takes to interpret those kinds of values right into legislative action?

A: I don’t think they are. And I think they don’t fairly understand just how the times have actually changed. You’ve gained to remember that, basically for 40 years after Truman’s fatality, tbelow were extremely few Democrats in the White Housage. So many of the Democrats that are in Congress now gained used to being the inspect to the president. They were a pretty huge deal in that role. A president of the United States would certainly have to deal with them if they were chairmen of the committees, and also they really chosen that.

Now they’re type of at a loss because the president of the United States is in their party, and he doesn’t need to deal with them. And nobody else hregarding resolve them, and also they don’t rather understand what to do. Democrats are uncomfortable with admitting they were more comfortable when there was a Republihave the right to president and they were in charge of the Housage. But they definitely had more congressional power.

Obviously, what they need to execute is even more prefer what Newt had actually to execute to reget the Congress. That is, he built an extremely strong, cohesive team. Instead, the Democratic leaders are all sitting tbelow waiting to as soon as again be chairguys of somepoint or various other and also to have actually their staff and also to be able to run something.

Q: What are the following frontiers in policymaking for women?

A: The problem of taxing women is one. This is an issue we tried very tough to lug up every year in the Women’s Caucus, in our economic-equity package. The tax code is so skewed against woguys, bereason it really is a 1930s product. But we never got it off the ground.

There’s a brand-new book titled “Taxing Women,” by Edward J. McCaffery. It could provide the academic base for a brand-new push. I hope every woguy in America gets it. It tells you how we minimize woguys in our financial thinking.

The various other book that’s coming out in the spring is “The Feminist Dollar,” by Phyllis Katz, which goes via every significant corporation in America and also prices them on what are their employment policies vis-a-vis woguys and also working families; perform they have actually high-ranking women in their management; perform they add via their community funds, points that advantage women; and, ultimately, carry out they have actually womales on their board of directors. You have the right to imagine the highest-scoring companies are choose in the 40s fairly than in the hundreds, and many kind of are absolute zeros.

So if you take this little book once it comes out, and put it on some nice laminated cards, and also begin showing them as soon as you shop, it might really adjust the means service providers behave actually. Look at women’s economic power. Womales regulate the purchases in this country of enough so that it’s equal to the gross national product of Japan. Jesse Jackchild deserve to organize a boycott, and also get results. What’s the matter via us? Are we such wimps that we’re afrassist to do that?

I think there’s going to be even more readjust with that than anything we’re ever going to do in the Congress. It’s the activity that’s prepared to go.

Q: Are you surprised by the Army’s sexual-harassment scandal? What are the likenesses or similarities or dissimilarities to Tailhook?

A: I’m not surprised. If you’ve got a survey that states 60-some percent of the women in the Military say they were sexually harassed, and then you look at just how many type of filed complaints, and also it’s 160. Hmm, 160 is not 60% of Army woguys.

They’ve said zero tolerance, they’ve mouthed the ideal words, however it’s constantly been concern No. 7,421, and they never before obtain to it. So that’s the first point. The second point is, the typical wisdom has been that the services didn’t want womales, that womales were compelled on them by the exterior. There’s the majority of world in the Army that understand womales are here to continue to be, that they’re required. They don’t favor that attitude, yet they’re not going to danger their careers to stand up and also say it publicly, bereason this society has simply been allowed to grow and also prosper and thrive favor a cancer.

As to Tailhook, the Army’s instance is more disequivalent. It’s disequivalent all throughout the board.

First of all, you’re talking about most likely the a lot of delicate partnership, and that is your brand-brand-new, raw, 18-year-old recruit coming in and being told to perform whatever her drill sergeant tells her to execute. The average age of a drill sergeant is about 30. So you’ve acquired 30-year-olds preying on 18-year-olds. And you have actually a device that has actually sassist, “You execute what this person states bereason your entire career counts upon their performance review of you in these early on days.”

If they do something that is illegal, immoral or whatever, and you turn them in and they write your performance rating, just how does that work? If you’re an 18-year-old, this has actually acquired to be really confmaking use of. The armed forces states, “Well, we gave them all these manuals and every little thing on their first day.” Right! They look favor phone books, and you recognize they absorb them!

Tailhook was a skilled convention that naval aviators visited that obtained even more out of manage yearly. And it was wrong that the entirety command also went tbelow and experienced it and also didn’t pay any kind of attention. And that people were hitting on fellow officers that were there. But they were fellow officers, and they did recognize the system. They’re not 18-year-olds, and also they were able to finally bring the system to its knees.

Q: What advice would you provide not simply to the young womale coming in behind you in your seat, but a womale, any type of woguy coming to Congress now for the initially time?

A: I think woguys still have to never kid themselves that they’re going to come right here and also be part of the team. And you must come below via a really clear meaning of what it is you desire to perform, and that you will certainly not be deterred. There’s a entirety team of little bit harpies out tbelow eexceptionally day trying to talk you out of it. They really don’t want you pushing the envelope, bereason then it becomes choose-up-sides time for everybody.

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Melissa Healy is a health and wellness and also science reporter through the Los Angeles Times writing from the Washington, D.C., location. She covers prescription drugs, weight problems, nutrition and exercise, and also neuroscience, psychological wellness and also huguy actions. She’s gone to The Times for more than 30 years, and has extended nationwide defense, setting, residential social plan, Congress and the White Housage. As a baby boomer, she keenly follows trends in midlife weight obtain, memory loss and the health benefits of red wine.