“Make sure to wear shoes, ladies. There’s glass everywhere.”
This quote, going viral all over social media, began circulating on Saturday, November 7, 2020 – the day the presidential election was officially called for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his history-making running mate, Senator Kamala Harris.
Of course, it refers to the “glass ceiling,” the symbolic invisible barrier keeping women and other minorities from rising as high as their male counterparts in the world of business and politics.
Harris, 56, has shattered that ceiling in more ways than one – she will be the first female, first Black person, and first Asian-American person to serve as Vice President in American history.
Her victory is hard proof of something that women in this country, particularly those of minority ethnicities, have mostly seen as an impossible pipe dream.
“Her win puts to rest the question of the electability of women to high office – a question that haunted both the women and people of color who ran for the Democratic nomination this cycle,” Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics, told USA Today.
Other Notable Women Who Led The Way
Harris’ triumph comes a full 100 years after American women won the right to vote. A study by Rutgers University found that at least 11 other women have attempted to become Vice President before.
Some of those notable females include Marietta Stow in 1884, Lena Springs in 1924 (also the first woman nominated by a major party), Charlotta Bass in 1952 (the first Black woman candidate), Geraldine Ferraro (the first woman on a major ticket) in 1984 and of course, Sarah Palin (the second) in 2008.
Harris’ mother, Shyamala, emigrated from India and made sure Kamala and her sister Maya learned what it meant to be strong Black women. That message drove Harris to become the first female and first African-American attorney general in California in 2010, then the first Indian-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. She is also only the second Black female Senator.
Harris’ mother and Jamaican father raised their daughters in Oakland and Berkeley, integral locations of the Civil Rights Movement. They always brought Harris along when they marched, giving her what she has often called a “stroller’s-eye view” of social justice. Kamala was deeply impacted at the age of seven after witnessing a speech in 1971 by Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to garner national attention for a presidential run. Harris often refers to figures like Chisholm, civil rights legends Mary McLeod Bethune and Fannie Lou Hamer as sources of inspiration, as well as her Indian mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who passed away in 2009, when asked about her impressive rise.
By No Means An Easy Road To Vice President
After graduating from the prestigious Howard University School of Law and earning her J.D. at the University of California, she garnered a reputation as a capable, aggressive prosecutor specializing in domestic violence and child exploitation. But her 2020 campaign for president fell short, and she dropped out long before the race had really begun.
Her first duties as a senator in 2017 included grilling Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose controversial campaign stirred up many emotions and backlash to those who dared question him. After his confirmation, President Trump called her “the meanest, the most horrible, the most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate.”
Despite several notable ideological differences between the two, Vice President Biden chose Harris as his running mate out of several viable candidates. But American voters were very divided in their opinions of her, with 46 percent of those surveyed by the Associated Press calling her “very” or “somewhat” favorable, and 47 percent calling her “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable. The Trump team did not hold back on attacks against her, calling her a “monster” in attack ads more than once.
So what does it mean that she succeeded, despite all the barriers thrown against her?
It means that as a female and a minority, she will be more heavily scrutinized for her every move than any vice president in history. It means she will certainly face more unfair attacks on her personal life, her family, wardrobe, and other things that male politicians never have to worry about.
But it also means that she is in a better position than anyone like her in history to eventually rise to the role of the nation’s first female Commander in Chief. It means she will be the starkest symbol yet of this country’s slow but steady shift away from letting older white males call every shot. And it means that young girls everywhere, no matter their ethnicity, will grow up in a world where they can turn on the television and see someone who looks like them in the office of the second most powerful person in the world.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said during her victory speech. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Kamala Harris’ success means there are fewer excuses than ever to withhold upward mobility from women. It’s 2020; if you are somehow still experiencing discrimination at work because you’re a woman, Harris shows us there’s no reason why you should accept that.
At The Cochran Firm Texas, employment discrimination cases are one of our areas of expertise. Our experienced team will make sure your gender is not a factor in the way you’re treated at work. If you have questions about your rights or want to look into opening a case against your employer, contact us or give us a call anytime at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476). We’re always here to help.
Nicole oversees the transaction and governmental entities practice at The Cochran Firm Texas. She also participates in the firm’s litigation group. Nicole is an industry expert in Texas real estate law and public housing law. She believes that everyone should have equal access to quality legal representation. Nicole received her undergraduate degree in accounting from Clemson University in 1992 and her Juris Doctorate degree from Sothern Methodist University School of Law in 1996. When not at work, Nicole devotes time to her family, public service and her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. If she is not spending time with her husband, Larry, she is supporting her three children’s collegiate activities and endeavors.