Check it out: There are more women running for president right now than at any time in American history.
We have six women (four of them sitting U.S. senators) vying for president in 2020 – all Democrats. We also have 102 women serving in Congress – the largest contingent in American history.
When the first Democratic presidential candidate debates happen in Miami June 26 and 27, all six women running for president in 2020 will appear on that stage.
It’s a political story that’s not getting near enough attention.
“Almost all of the metrics show that certain men are getting far more coverage than the women,” Christina Reynolds, vice-president of communications at Emily’s List, told the Guardian newspaper. “We don’t know what would happen if more people knew these women.”
In that spirit, here’s a listing (in no particular order) of the women running for president, with some biographical information about each. Five are lawyers, and five are mothers. The youngest is 38 and the oldest is 69:
Kamala Harris, 54, is an attorney and the second African American woman in history to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Before that, she was the first African American (and first woman) to serve as California Attorney General, according to her campaign website.
Born in Oakland, her late mother was a breast cancer researcher from India, and her father is a retired Stanford University economics professor from Jamaica, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Both came to UC Berkeley for graduate school, where they met.
Harris began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, specializing in prosecuting child sexual assault cases. In 1998, she joined the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. She also headed the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Children and Families. In 2003, she was elected District Attorney of San Francisco, and reelected in 2007. As Attorney General, she prosecuted transnational gangs that exploited women and children and trafficked in guns and drugs.
She went to Howard University and then law school at the University of California. As U.S. Senator, Harris introduced or co-sponsored legislation to provide sweeping tax cuts for the middle class, address the high cost of rent, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, make higher education tuition-free for the vast majority of Americans, reform the cash bail system, protect the legal rights of refugees and immigrants, and expand access to affordable, quality health care with Medicare for All, according to her campaign website.
She is married to attorney Doug Emhoff and is stepmother to Ella and Cole Emhoff.
Elizabeth Warren: Warren, 69, was a law professor and is now U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. She wanted to be a teacher since she was in the second grade, but her family didn’t have money for college, according to her campaign website.
In high school, she earned a debate scholarship for college, but dropped out to get married to her high school sweetheart at 19. She went to a Texas commuter college for $50 a semester, and she started teaching special-needs elementary school children. At 22, she had her daughter Amelia. When Amelia was two, Warren enrolled in a public law school that cost $450 a semester.
Three years later, she graduated – eight months pregnant with her son Alex. She practiced law out of her living room, but soon returned to teaching. She was a law professor for more than 30 years at Rutgers University, the University of Houston, University of Texas-Austin, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University. She taught classes on commercial law, contracts, and bankruptcy, and researched the connection between health care costs and personal bankruptcy.
During the 2008 financial crisis, Democratic Majority Leader U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, asked Warren to serve as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Wall Street bailout. As an assistant to President Barack Obama and special adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury, she shepherded the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In 2013, after Senate Republicans vowed to block her nomination to serve as the CFPB’s first director, Warren ran for the U.S. Senate.
Warren and her husband, Harvard law professor Bruce Mann, have been married for 38 years and have three grandchildren.
Amy Klobuchar, 59, is an attorney and the first-ever woman elected to be a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, first elected in 2006. Her father was a newspaper columnist and her mother was an elementary school teacher, according to her Senate biography.
Klobuchar grew up in Minnesota, where she was high school valedictorian and went on to Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School. She was a corporate lawyer, becoming partner at two Minneapolis law firms before being elected Hennepin County Attorney in 1998. She led the effort for Minnesota’s first felony drunk driving law. Her safe schools initiative, community prosecution efforts, and criminal justice reforms earned national awards from both the Bush and Clinton Justice Departments, her biography says.
Klobuchar is married to attorney John Bessler and they have a daughter, Abigail. It was her daughter’s birth that drew her toward politics, according to the New York Times. Abigail had a medical condition that required her to stay in the hospital, but insurance dictated that Klobuchar could only stay in the hospital for 24 hours. Klobuchar pushed for legislation to guarantee new mothers a 48-hour hospital stay, a proposal that eventually became federal law, the Times reported.
“In the Senate, Ms. Klobuchar has cultivated a worker-bee persona, not leading on divisive issues like immigration and focusing instead on curbing the cost of prescription drugs, addressing sexual harassment and protecting online privacy. A 2016 analysis found that she had passed the most laws of anyone in the Senate,” the Times reported.
Kirsten Gillibrand, 52, is an attorney and U.S. Senator from New York. She was previously a member of the House of Representatives, and was appointed to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate when Clinton became Secretary of State. Gillibrand later ran for the Senate and won re-election subsequently.
The daughter of two lawyers, she went to Albany’s Academy of Holy Names, the Emma Willard School, Dartmouth College, and the UCLA School of Law, according to her campaign website. She worked as an attorney in New York City for over 10 years, and became Special Counsel to U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Andrew Cuomo during the Clinton Administration. She then worked as an attorney in Upstate New York before running for Congress.
According to her campaign website, she led the effort to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that banned gays from serving openly in the military; she wrote the STOCK Act, which made it illegal for members of Congress to financially benefit from inside information; and she secured benefits for the 9/11 first responders and survivors who are sick with diseases tied to toxins at Ground Zero. She was the first member of Congress ever to post her official daily meetings, earmarks, and personal financial disclosures online.
She has made protecting reproductive rights and sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention centerpieces of her campaign. When first elected to Congress, she was more conservative, but now leans progressive. She has worked to raise the minimum wage, make quality child care more affordable, and create universal pre-K, according to her campaign website.
Her husband, Jonathan Gillibrand, is a venture capitalist. They have two sons, Theo and Henry.
Tulsi Gabbard, 38, is a fourth-term U.S. Representative from Hawaii and a major in the National Guard. She is the first Samoan American and the first Hindu member of Congress, according to her campaign website.
Her father is of Samoan descent, went to high school in North Florida, and is a member of the Hawaiian Legislature. A Catholic, he spent many years as an activist against homosexual marriage, and Tulsi has drawn criticism for her past work in that arena as well, although in 2012 she said her military tours had changed her opinion, and now supports same-sex marriage. Her mother, Carol, is from Indiana and adopted Hindu as her religion.
Gabbard was home-schooled through high school except for two years at a Philippines missionary academy for girls. She has a bachelor’s degree from Hawaii Pacific University.
A key issue for her is American military intervention abroad. “Having experienced first-hand the true cost of war, she made a personal vow to find a way to ensure that our country doesn’t continue repeating the mistakes of the past, sending our troops into war without a clear mission, strategy, or purpose,” her website says.
Another campaign theme is the need for “service before self.”
She is a surfer and an athlete trained in martial arts. Her husband, Abraham Williams, is a freelance cinematographer and editor. They have no children.
Marianne Williamson, 66, is a self-help guru and author of 13 books. For years, she has lectured and advocated for the spiritual guide A Course in Miracles. Oprah Winfrey has promoted Williamson’s work.
She grew up in Texas, according to her campaign website, and spent two years at California’s Pamona College. She later founded Project Angel Food, a volunteer group serving home-bound people with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. She is also the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a national nonprofit group that advocates for (among other things) a U.S. Department of Peacebuilding.
In general, her message is that the toxic environment of politics needs healing, and that Americans need inner healing to move forward.
“Our government is now little more than a system of legalized bribery,” she writes. “and our traditional political establishment at its best is a container for an obsolete conversation about democracy, and values, and people.”
“What we most need now is a political visionary — someone with a deep understanding of where we have been and where we need to be going. While car mechanics are important, they aren’t necessarily the ones who know how to drive you to where you want to go. It is unreasonable to expect the mindset that drove us into the ditch, to be able to pull us out of it. It’s not enough now to just know what’s happening inside Washington; we need someone who also knows what’s happening inside us.”
She is divorced and has one daughter.
In an ancient wooden box, I have a political memento my mother passed on to me. It’s a campaign button for Shirley Chisolm, the first woman in history to seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Chisolm was a trailblazing black congresswoman in 1972 when she ran for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. I was a little girl, and my mom and I were so psyched to see Chisolm standing to lead. My mom passed away years ago. I sure wish she was here to see how many women are stepping up.
Correction: U.S. Senator Tulsi Gabbard is 38 years old, not 31 years old, as the original story incorrectly reported. The Phoenix regrets the error.