Friday, August 26, 2016


We hear it all the time. Woman have this intangible glass ceiling that prevents them from breaking into the highest reaches. There is no doubt that if Hillary Clinton becomes president in the November 2016 election, she will certainly break through that ceiling. But what about the other women in U.S. history that ran for president? Do you know who they are? Look to the Monrovia Public Library for some intriguing answers.

The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency by Ellen Fitzpatrick is a history of 3 women who challenged conventional wisdom to run. Those women were Victoria Woodhull in 1872, Margaret Chase Smith (a Republican senator who was called too old and too female to run) in 1964 and Shirley Chisholm in 1972. Readers who enjoy more than just the facts of history will be engaged by this interesting book that shares little known anecdotes about these candidates.

Free Woman: The Life and Times of Victoria Woodhull by Marion Meade is the story of the first woman to run for president. Ms. Woodhull was a spiritualist, a Wall Street broker, a newspaper publisher and member of the Equal Rights Party which supported women’s suffrage. Although she lost the race, she ran again and goes down in history as a multi-talented free thinker.

In The Good Fight, Shirley Chisholm, a sharp Democratic New York congresswoman, tells the story of her life, how it felt to be the first African-American Congresswoman and what it was like to run for the presidency both as a woman and a Black person. As a trailblazer and outsider she challenged an entrenched system that did not look kindly on upstarts. It would be easy to use a period phrase for Congresswoman Chisholm—“you’ve come a long way, baby”—but not long enough, as she did not get far in her quest.

Running for the Republican ticket in 2016 was Carly Fiorina, whose Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey is about how she became CEO of Hewlett-Packard before turning to politics.

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