In Politics, More Winning Women

maria cantwell democrat washington wins her state's primary sept. 19, 2000
From the victory of the First Lady turned Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the east to the re-election of a female Senate powerhouse, Dianne Feinstein of California, in the west, the spotlight was shining brightly on winning women nationwide.

After this year's election, more women than ever will serve in Congress and governorships, CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports.

"Hard work proves you can do anything!" proclaimed Ruth Ann Minner, Republican Governor-elect of Delaware.

"The more women in the Senate, the more women governors, the more women from which to choose presidential and vice presidential nominees, and that's the real significance of what happened this year," said Sherry Bebitch-Jeffries, a political scientist.

A record 13 women were elected to the Senate, with Washington state Democrat Maria Cantwell's razor-thin victory just affirmed by a recount.

Fifty-nine women will take seats in the House of Representatives, where Maryland Congresswoman Connie Morella returning for her eighth term identifies issues that got women in both parties elected.

"The issues are education nationally, health, and then you get into safety and security issues, by that I mean: social security," said Morella, R-Maryland.

Five women were elected governors, in Montana, Delaware and Puerto Rico. It's the first time ever women will hold the top office in those areas.

It may sound good but in the top elected offices across the country, it's still a man's world. Even after this election women will make up only 13 percent of the senate and 13.5 percent of the house of representatives.

"The gains this year were bigger than average, so our rate of increase was up — but we are a long way from equal representation," said Katherine Spillar of the organization Feminist Majority.

But what is encouraging to many is that gender itself, according to exit polling, is becoming less important than the issues in getting women elected.