Kellyanne Conway just made feminist history. Here’s why.
Kellyanne Conway made history earlier this month, becoming the first woman to head a Republican presidential nominee’s campaign and just the fourth woman in history to serve as a campaign manager for a presidential nominee.
That’s right: 2016 will be the 58th presidential election in U.S. history, but there have only been four women campaign managers for major party nominees.
Barbara Lee Family Foundation research shows that the most effective and disciplined campaign teams are gender-balanced, according to both candidates and staff interviewed over 20 years. For decades, women have predominantly taken on the behind-the-scenes work that make campaigns possible.
That’s changing. Conway is playing a visible and vocal role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and showing that women can and should be leaders on the campaign trail. Here’s a look back at the women who have helped break up the boys’ club of presidential campaign management:
Michael Dukakis Presidential Campaign, 1988
Susan Estrich is used to making history. Before becoming the first woman to ever lead a major presidential campaign, Estrich was the youngest woman to be tenured at Harvard Law School. Today, you can catch her as a legal analyst on Fox News or teaching law at the University of Southern California.
Al Gore Presidential Campaign, 2000
Donna Brazile broke barriers when she became the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign. She had previously worked on every Democratic presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000. She’s been a fixture of CNN’s political coverage and, most recently, was named interim chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Mary Beth Cahill
John Kerry Presidential Campaign, 2004
Mary Beth Cahill’s resume puts our LinkedIn profiles to shame. She has served as Executive Director for EMILY’s List and chief of staff for the late Senator Ted Kennedy, and currently serves as the National Political Director for the United Auto Workers.
Having women decision makers at all levels of political campaigns matters, but what can we say? Here at BLFF, we love a #GirlBoss.
About The Barbara Lee Family Foundation: We work to advance women’s equality and representation in American politics through political research, strategic partnerships, and grants and endowments. Our work is guided by our core belief that women’s voices strengthen our democracy and enrich our culture.