Sen. Barbara Mikulski to Become Longest Serving Female Senator

Dec 29, 2010 9:58am

ABC News' Tom Shine reports: She's the shortest but soon will become the longest.

At noon on Wednesday, Jan. 5th, a new Congress will be sworn in. At that very moment, a feisty, powerful, 4 foot 11 inches, 74-year-old woman, Barbara Mikulski, will become the longest serving woman senator in U.S. history, eclipsing Margaret Chase Smith by two days.

Mikulski, D-Md., grew up in a blue-collar Polish neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks where her family owned a grocery store. She didn’t go to the right schools, or belong to the right clubs.  "

I was born in a generation where women didn’t go into politics, where women didn’t even know about a glass ceiling," Mikulski has said. "We didn’t think in our family about going into politics because in Baltimore during those days politics was run by political bosses, political machines, pot bellied guys with cigars who made backroom deals… It's very unlikely someone like me would ever come to the United States Senate."

But she did, and there is legislation from breast cancer research to education that has her name on it.  When she arrived in the Senate, Mikulski was the 16th woman in all of American history to serve. 

Today, there are 17 female senators.

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