DIANE SAWYER HOSTS A ROUNDTABLE WITH FEMALE SENATORS
DIANE SAWYER: Senator Mikulski, 20 in this room. What does it mean to you?
SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: Diane, I can't tell you the joy that I feel in my heart to look at these 20 gifted and talented women from two different parties, different zip codes to fill this room. When I came to the United States Senate 25 years ago it was only Senator Kassebaum and myself. In all of American history only 16 women had served. Now there are 20 of us. I knew I was the first Democratic woman elected in her own right, but I didn't only want to be the first. I wanted to be the first of many. And here we are today ready to be a force in American politics.
Diane Sawyer's complete interview will air on "World News" and "Nightline" tonight.
DIANE SAWYER: You have said, "Put on our suits, square our shoulders and get it done."
SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: Square our shoulders, put your red lipstick on and fight the revolution. (LAUGHTER)
DIANE SAWYER: Go Barbara. Now, 20, it's great, but 20? 53% of the electorate was female as we know, 57-60% of college graduates are women-- are going to be women controlling 50-60% of the retail sales in this country not to mention all the h-- 80% of the health care decisions in this country. What is taking so long?
FEMALE VOICE: Oh--
DIANE SAWYER: Congratulation, but what's taking so long--
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: What's taking so long, you have to realize-- women got their own rights. We didn't get the right to vote till 1920. And it was not because of men, it was because of the suffragettes. And so it's been a fight for basic rights-- the reason the public university system was begun-- women couldn't get into various colleges. The inheritance of property, those kinds of things all developed throughout the years for this new nation.
And to a great extent it's continued today-- with certain biases in society on certain social issues whether it's the right to choose-- whether it's women in the workplace, whether it's still the-- the glass ceiling, women in the corporate hierarchy. And so what's good about this and what Barbara has said is that we have now reached the fullest in history in this body.
DIANE SAWYER: And Senator Mikulski, you were commenting on the fact that the House only recently than added a woman as a chair of a committee.
SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: Well, the House-- issued their statement of who are gonna chair committees. There were no women-- on the list. We presume they had binders of women-- (LAUGH) and-- but nevertheless they did put one woman on. But that's the House. Here in the Senate it's based on seniority and achievement.
So in this room you have women chairing very important committees. Senator Feinstein chairs the Intelligence Committee, Senator Stabenow, agriculture. We could go around. Republican women bring incredible talent to this conversation and to this institution and are ranking members because the Democrats are in majority.