In 1992, United States politics was abuzz with the energy of four newly elected women in the wake of a sexism-related controversy. The year prior, Clarence Thomas was sworn in as the 106th Supreme Court Justice despite sexual allegations against him made by Anita Hill. The outcome of the hearings prompted the running and election of Patty Murray, Carol Moseley Braun, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer into the U.S. Senate. Observers heralded the period as the Year of the Woman.
Today, women make up 20 percent of the Senate. They hold 104 seats out of 535 in Congress, and fill almost 25 percent of positions in state legislatures. While significant progress has been made in women’s inclusion in politics and the influence of many female leaders, women continue to be underrepresented in the political arena.
Larissa Faulkner, director of the Tahoe Center for Professional Development, started the website In the Dome with the aim of creating a standard for the work of women in government. Without directly addressing the gender gap that exists in American politics, the website acts as an online collection of news and commentary covering the contributions of women in the country’s highest positions of leadership. The online space features articles on women holding and running for political office at national, state, and local levels.
A post from fall 2015 on In the Dome included an article on then presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s speech at the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce conference hosted by the Koch Brothers. At the event, the audience responded well to Fiorina, and she garnered applause for her criticism on media’s biased attention on political funding for conservatives. She also took a stab at fellow candidate Hillary Clinton by joking about the controversy that surrounded Clinton’s use of her personal email account for business purposes during her time as Secretary of State.
While the relatively new In the Dome still lacks engaging content, its goal is clear: shed light on the nation’s female change-makers and normalize their presence in the political sphere. The site also provides a list of resources that add to this aim, such as a link to The American Association of University Women’s Elect Her program. The program is the country’s sole initiative advancing women’s presence in politics, and does this by training women in college to run for student government, and political offices in the future.
Twenty-three years after the Year of the Woman, the U.S. is once again animated by predictions that 2016 might witness the nation’s first female president. Women’s voices are now being heard across states and in the topmost levels of power. In the Dome is a careful collation of those voices, serving as an inspirational archive of the everyday work accomplished by women leaders.