Year of the Woman


In this issue of Cascade Business News we pay special tribute to women entrepreneurs, they are too numerous in Central Oregon to measure. But we do know that all across the nation the number of women-owned businesses is rapidly increasing — by 54 percent since 1997.  Oregon’s women-owned firms have grown 35 percent over the past 15 years with revenue from those firms increasing 44 percent. 

Women business owners contribute to the overall employment in the U.S. with 18 million workers and generate anywhere from $2 to $3 trillion in revenues.

But this year, the Year of the Woman, the spotlight is not just on women entrepreneurs.

For the first time in history, there are more women on the U.S. Olympics team than men, 269 to 261, and Russia’s team, which is nearly as big, is also majority-female. Saudi Arabia has sent its first two women to the competition and the games feature what in all likelihood is the most pregnant athlete to compete in an Olympics: Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who is due to give birth to a girl any day now.

Even Britain’s poster athlete for the Games is a woman — heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who in addition to appearing on countless London billboards also beams up at arriving visitors from a field along the Heathrow airport flight path. A 173-by-264-foot likeness of the telegenic star is painted on the grass there.

Karla Wolters, a retired professor and longtime coach of women’s softball at Hope College in Michigan put it this way, “If Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, knew that there were more (American) women than men in this year’s London Olympics, I’m sure he would be rolling over in his grave. He was totally against having women in the Olympics.”

Indeed, in the first games, in Athens in 1896, all 256 competitors were men. Women were allowed to compete four years later, with tennis player Charlotte Cooper the first champion. (Medals were not awarded until 1904.)

For the first time, every nation has at least one female athlete. These interesting facts give rise to calling 2012 Year of the Woman. But hold on.

The Year of the Woman actually was a popular label attached to 1992 after the election of a number of female senators in the United States.

According to Wikipedia the hotly contested senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas involving the allegations of Anita Hill raised the question of the dominance of men in the Senate.

In 1991, the Senate included two female members, but neither Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas nor Barbara Mikulski of Maryland served on the Judiciary Committee. Allegedly, Washington State senate member Patty Murray decided to run for election after watching these hearings.

While Murray set out to raise the necessary funds, two other women several hundred miles to the south in California began work on their own Senate campaigns. As a result, on January 3, 1993, for the first time in American history, California became the first state in the nation to be represented in the Senate by two women. In the 1992 elections, Dianne Feinstein, a former Democratic mayor of San Francisco, running for the balance of an uncompleted term, beat her opponent with a margin of nearly two million votes, while Barbara Boxer—a ten-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives who had joined six of her Democratic women colleagues in a march on the Senate to urge greater attention to Anita Hill’s charges—solidly won a full term.

At a presidential debate at the University of Richmond, President George H. W. Bush was asked when his party might nominate a woman for President. Bush brought up the media’s catchphrase at the end of his response, saying “This is supposed to be the year of the women in the Senate. Let’s see how they do. I hope a lot of them lose.”

A week after the election, a popular Washington Post photograph illustrated the situation. Standing with exultant Democratic Majority Leader George Mitchell were not only Feinstein and Boxer, but also Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and Patty Murray of Washington. Never before had four women been elected to the Senate in a single election year.

When the newcomers joined incumbents Kassebaum and Mikulski in January 1993, headline-writers described the occurrence as “The Year of the Woman.” In response, Senator Mikulski said, “Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We’re not a fad, a fancy or a year.”

Source: Paul Haven, The Associated Press, July 26, 2012 and Wikipedia.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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