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What's It Like For Women In Politics Today, In The Words Of Illinois Leaders At The DNC

Attorney General Lisa Madigan and a young volunteer at the 2016 Democratic National Convention Illinois delegation breakfast.
Amanda Vinicky
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS
Attorney General Lisa Madigan and a young volunteer at the 2016 Democratic National Convention Illinois delegation breakfast.

Hillary Clinton was born in Chicago in 1947, and raised in the suburbs. Sixty-eight years later, she’s making history as the first woman to be nominated for President by a major party.

Following, a handful ladies in Illinois’ delegation reflect on Clinton’s candidacy and on what it’s like to be a woman in politics.

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN: “For us to say to our daughter and our granddaughters: ‘You can be anything you want to be when you grow up’ but I would ask you this: until a woman is President of the United States, can we really say that with total confidence?”

ILLINOIS HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE: “Young women in particular didn’t take it as seriously as I hoped they would. It’s cause they somehow think we’re already done it, it’s old hat already. And that’s perhaps because there are so many women—increasing numbers but not enough --- in important positions. In government, in business, in journalism, across everything.”

CHICAGO ATTORNEY KIMBERLEY EGONMWAN: “It’s a very different experience saying first African American President and first woman president. Especially for black woman because most black women would say they’re black first, woman second. I’m just being honest about it. However, I will say this: I have watched Hillary Clinton since I was a child. I am excited about the prospect of her being President.”

COOK COUNTY PRESIDENT TONI PRECKWINKLE: “When was the last time you heard any reporters talk to men about their hair? And how they wear it? Or their clothes? Or how high their heels are? You know I think women are subject to a lot of irrelevant criticism and comment that men aren’t and it’s demeaning. And in view is, it’s all about the substance and Hillary Clinton is surely all about the substance.”

CONGRESSWOMAN CHERI BUSTOS: If we are truly going to change our country and America, we’ve got to better reflect the makeup of America. That’s what this is all about.”

STATE SENATOR HEATHER STEANS: “It’s working folks. But our work’s not done. We have to make sure – as we know the glass ceiling is here. As we know, we have not yet elected a woman senate president, we need to get Hillary Clinton in board, we need to make sure that we do so well then that Trump is so made that he’s the one who has got blood coming out of his eyes in November.”

ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANNE BURKE: “Navigation is a good word b/c that’s what you have to do is navigate it. If you’re going to let it bother you, then you have a chip on your shoulder. It’s just the way people are. For instance: He’s married to me. I’m not married to him. But when there’s an article in the paper about me, I’m 'the wife of Alderman Burke.' He didn’t take my bar exam for me, he didn’t take my college exams. He doesn’t write my decisions for me. We don’t talk about my work – none of that. But I’m always going to be the wife of Alderman Burke. I’m an Illinois Supreme Court judge. But that makes no difference. It really doesn’t. But does it make any difference to me … Not at all. I know who I am. And that’s how Hillary … she just … has … is the example of that. She stands on her own two feet.”

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MADIGAN: “You want me to give you a Hillary story? I first met Hillary when I was running statewide and she was in Chicago for an event, and she actually took the time to sit down and talk to me and to say: Look, don’t worry about what people are saying. You just do what you’re doing, because you’re doing it for the right reasons. And this was a person who at that point had been in the White House, who had I think seen the worst of it and was still going, was still you know, in the U.S. Senate, still incredibly amazing public servant/policy wonk. That’s the priority. You have to do what’s in your heart. And she’s a great example.”

Copyright 2016 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Amanda Vinicky
Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.