Hillary Clinton Has Made Primary History. What Will It Mean If She Wins The Presidency?

Clinton is breaking down barriers that seemed unbreakable just 100 years ago.

Hillary Clinton will be the first woman to ever become the presidential nominee for a major political party in the United States, according to The Associated Press. And regardless of your political leanings, that is something we can all raise a glass to.

The news agency declared Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee on Monday after a poll of superdelegates assessing a recent wave of support. She's also expected to clinch the popular vote following Tuesday night's primaries, though Senator Bernie Sanders insists he will stay in the race until the superdelegates cast their vote at the Democratic National Convention in July. 

"It's been an incredible journey," Clinton told reporters on Monday. "My supporters are passionate. They are committed. They have voted for me in great numbers across our country for many reasons. But among those reasons is their belief that having a woman president will make a great statement, a historic statement, about what kind of country we are, what we stand for. It's really emotional."

In the lead up to President Barack Obama's momentous election, many pundits and journalists hypothesized about the way our first African-American president might change the kinds of conversations we have about race. Similarly, it's worth asking what impact a similarly historic Clinton presidency would have on the lives of American women.


Experts suspect that Clinton's nomination might bolster the numbers of women entering all kinds of leadership roles, including those inside government. Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily's List, an organization dedicated to electing female Democrats, reminded NBC News that it has been nearly 100 years since the first woman — Montana Republican Jeannette Rankin — was elected to Congress in 1917. More than 300 women have been elected to Congress since. 

Research similarly suggests electing women to leadership positions in the government inspires more female professionals to take part. As an undergrad at Harvard, data expert and political consultant Amelia Showalter studied the effect of electing women to statewide positions. 30 years of data from 49 states showed that electing a woman to office today "means more women entering politics at lower levels tomorrow."

"Throughout her career, Clinton has served as a role model for women of all ages, even while enduring an onslaught of demeaning attacks by media figures and politicians who have lobbed an unending barrage of sexist insults her way," Karin Roland, chief campaigns officer for activist organization UltraViolet Action, told A Plus. "Her courage and strength has been an inspiration to all women who face sexism in their daily lives — whether it is in their careers or just walking down the street — and hopefully will inspire more women to get involved in running our country."

As Vox pointed out, there's reason to believe a Clinton nomination — and potentially a Clinton presidency — could have a far bigger impact. Only 66 percent of Americans could correctly name their state's governor in 2007, according to Pew. The president, of course, would be known by just about everyone. That kind of recognition could spur more women to get involved in government, Vox suggests, and simply put: women and men don't govern in the same way.  

A number of studies show that women are more likely to advocate for women's issues than men. The gender pay gap, child care laws, abortion, women's health issues and even laws associated with sexual assault could all see major changes with women in office. 

In the corporate arena, women still only make up five percent of CEOs in the nation's Fortune 500 companies, but that's better than where we were 20 years ago, when there were none. The growth of women in corporate leadership positions teamed with a leader like Clinton as president could push forward the same changes in big business that we're seeing in politics.

For every American in the United States, Clinton's nomination — and perhaps her presidency — could have lasting implications for the generations to come. 

Cover photo: A Katz /Shutterstock


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.