Claiming a Vote: Women Legislators of Maryland
The General Assembly

By Kathy Postel Kretman and Gregory G. Lebel
January 1, 1991

PREFACE

The Maryland Women's Legislative Caucus was begun as the Maryland Chapter of the Order of Women Legislators. In the early years, we met two or three times during the legislative session to give the few women then serving in the legislature an opportunity to be in a supportive environment and to share experiences with each other. Little did we know then how our numbers would grow, and how our meeting together would lead to a strong working legislative caucus.

It was obvious from the start that many of the issues we were voting on were unanimously supported or rejected by all the women members. We each had come to elective office out of years of community involvement. The similarity of experience set this focus. This was not true for many of our male colleagues, as they reflected more their geographic interests, employment experiences, or even their professions.

One of two outrageous actions by our male dominated body became the catalyst for our caucus activism. The newly developing national consciousness concerning the disparate treatment of women in American society gave our existence new impetus and direction.

With our determination to work together on carefully selected priority issues, we realized that staff was essential to enable us to succeed in meeting this added responsibility. With the assistance of an academically trained volunteer, we sought and won a grant to hire our first staff executive.

It was clear to us that by working together, organizing and calling on community support groups when necessary, we few women members of the legislature could achieve results well beyond the ability of any of us working alone.

In addition to the benefits we have gained by this working caucus, we have been acknowledged nationally as both the first such organized Women's Legislative Caucus and perhaps the only one in which one hundred percent of the elected women legislators are members.

When we started we were few. Now we are many. We were political newcomers, now we are knowledgeable and experienced. What the years ahead bring, and how much is accomplished, is closely tied to continuing the strong cooperative spirit that has been nurtured by our Women's Caucus.

Delegate Pauline H. Menes


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