WASHINGTON, DC (NEWS CENTER) The new Congress being sworn in this week will have a record number of women, including 20 in the U.S. Senate. That's a far cry from 1979 when retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) first arrived.
There were only 16 women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives that year, and just one woman in the Senate. Snowe says it wasn't too much of a shock for her because of her previous experience in Augusta. Snowe says "I had the benefit of being in the state Legislature, so I was accustomed to being one of the few among the many men."
Snowe worked together with the other women in Congress, including the woman who now holds the record for most years of service, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland). Snowe and Mikulski joined with other members of the women's caucus to visit refugee camps in Cambodia, to watch the first women astronaut go into space, and to battle with the National Institutes oif Health to makie sure women were included in crucial drug trials.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who this week becomes Maine's senior senator, believes women can accomplish more because they tend to be more collaborative than men.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) is part of a group making history. She and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) will be joined by two female members of the House and a woman governor to mark the first time women have held all of the top elective offices in a state. Ayotte says "It's just exciting to know that we're in a place where I think about my daughter- that anything she wants to do, puts her mind to, she can do, and I think that's a great place for us."