Before the 2014 midterms, Elizabeth Holtzman held the record for being the youngest woman elected to Congress. She was 31 in January 1973 when she was sworn in.

Elise Stefanik, 29, took over that distinction last November and now, in an op-ed for POLITICO Magazine, Holtzman is offering up some notes from her past for the new youngest woman on Capitol Hill.

It wasn't pretty when Holtzman got started:

  • When she was elected, there were only 16 women in the House and none in the Senate.
  • The gym for legislators was "completely off limits" for women and Holtzman had to institute the practice of addressing women as Madame Speaker when they were presiding over the House — otherwise they would be addressed as "Mr. Speaker."
  • Perhaps the most galling, a male senator asked Holtzman to bring him a cup of tea during a House-Senate conference.


Some things have surely improved, but sexism endures in the nation's capital. Last year, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand described male legislators commenting on her post-pregnancy body and saying things like "Good thing you're working out because you wouldn't want to get porky."

Statistically, the U.S. isn't a great place to be a woman in politics. America ranks only 33rd among 49 “high-income” countries when it comes to women in the national legislature.

Abby Rogers is a feminist who is completely content being a crazy cat lady. She reads everything, but only in real book form — no e-readers thank you very much.