Mind the (Gender) Gap

Today’s post comes from Gregory Marose, an intern in the National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications.

The photo here is from September 21, 1978, when Congresswomen Geraldine Ferraro met with President Jimmy Carter in the White House. (Carter Presidential Library; ARC 181476)

If you are under the age of 30, you might think that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was the first woman to run for Vice President on a major party ticket. But a generation earlier, New York Congresswoman Geraldine A. Ferraro broke the gender barrier in Presidential politics.

On this date in 1984, former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democratic Presidential nominee, gave the most consequential statement of his political career. “I am delighted to announce that I will ask the Democratic convention to nominate Geraldine Ferraro of New York to run with me for the White House,” Mondale told a jubilant crowd that had gathered in front of the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The choice was immediately met with applause by many prominent politicians and women’s rights activists. A statement released by Senator Edward Kennedy following the historic announcement reflected the consensus endorsement of the Democratic Party: ”I know Gerry Ferraro as one of the ablest political leaders in America. Now the whole country will have the chance to know Gerry Ferraro and to appreciate her extraordinary ability. She is extremely well qualified.”

Throughout the campaign, Ferraro proved to be a major asset for the Mondale ticket, inspiring thousands of women on the campaign trail. She also received praise for her performance in the Vice-Presidential debate.

Although the Mondale ticket ultimately lost in 1984 by a substantial margin, the selection of Geraldine Ferraro as the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee represented a major step toward closing the gender gap in American politics.

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