With Harris as Democratic VP pick, a look at women’s access to political power

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall | AP 2019

Editor’s note: August 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, and racist policies kept too many women of color from the polls for decades beyond that. 

As we mark this anniversary and weigh that history, MPR News with Kerri Miller is asking: What does it mean to be a woman in America today? This series airs weekly; our first conversation looked at the role of Black women and power in history and today.

California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris has been picked by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, to be his running mate. She would be the third woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket and the first woman of color.

Women have run for and held political office for more than a century and in increasing numbers, but it hasn’t been without a struggle for better treatment and equality. Polls show more than 90 percent of U.S. adults feel it’s very important or somewhat important for women to have equal rights with men in this country.

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MPR News host Kerri Miller talked with two political scientists about the 2020 election and women’s access to political power.


  • Andra Gillespie is an associate professor of political science at Emory University and the author of “Race and the Obama Administration: Substance, Symbols, and Hope.”

  • Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro is professor and chair of political science and international relations at the University of Southern California.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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