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Women Leaders Address Why Female Representation Still Lags Behind In Politics: 'Sexism And Misogyny Run Deep'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul's inauguration means there are now nine women serving as governors in the United States.

While the number ties a record, women's rights advocates say there is still a long way to go.

CBS2's Christina Fan asked women leaders, past and present, why.

ALBANY, NEW YORK - AUGUST 24: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks after taking her ceremonial oath of office at the New York State Capitol on August 24, 2021 in Albany, New York. Gov. Hochul was sworn in today as New York State's 57th Governor, making her New York's first female governor. Hochul took over after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would resign following the release of a report by the NYS Attorney General Letitia James, that concluded Cuomo had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Hochul, dressed in all white, paid homage to women suffragists who fought for this historic day.

More than a century after women won the right to vote, the state that gave birth to the movement finally swore in its first female governor.

"Sexism and misogyny run deep, and they run deep in men and in women," former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

Quinn and Christie Whitman are just two of the many who helped chipped away at the glass ceiling for women in politics, overcoming a lack of respect and support, sometimes from their own parties.

Quinn was New York City council's first female speaker in 2006. Whitman was New Jersey's first female governor in 1994.

"I was in meetings with men where those men would only talk to my male chief of staff," Quinn said.

"You would hear rumblings that they called the front office 'the estrogen palace,' you know, and you just ignore that kind of thing," Whitman said.

Both women say over time, they proved to voters they could not only do the job but were more transparent and collaborative than their male counterparts.

"In fact, if you look at much of the legislation in the House and the Senate that is bipartisan, you will find there have been women who are either the primary sponsors or a lot of women are the co-sponsors," Whitman said.

Women only hold 18% of governorships, but they are making inroads.

In New York City, the majority of City Council is set to be women.

"It's often said, 'If you can't see it, you don't know you can be it.' And when little girls all over the state turn the TV on today, they will know they can be it," Quinn said.

Making a difference by being the difference.

With the addition of New York, a total of 31 states have now had a woman governor. Nineteen states have not.

CBS2's Christina Fan contributed to this report.

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