The College Republicans hosted Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., Thursday to celebrate the rise of conservative women in Congress, though the duo discussed the barriers women still have to break to gain access to the political process.
The congresswomen discussed the role of conservative women in their party’s base during the intimate event in West Hall.
“There are no women’s issues as far as I’m concerned,” Foxx said. “All issues are women’s issues.”
Foxx was quick to debunk misconceptions about the stereotypical role of women in Congress, although she admitted there are “many more glass ceilings to break, many more barriers to overcome.”
Over the course of U.S. history, 12,000 men have served in Congress, compared with only 273 women, Foxx said.
“One-third of the women who have served in Congress are serving now,” Foxx said.
Both congresswomen hail from North Carolina, where they said the “old boys club” has been the common rule for decades.
“[Women] bring something to the table that really hasn’t been there in a while,” Ellmers said.
Ellmers, elected in November’s midterm elections, is a member of the Republican freshman class that came to D.C. eager to cut federal spending and reduce the role of government.
“I never wanted to pursue politics,” Ellmers said. “It was when I decided I wasn’t going to be the victim and be a part of the fight.”
Both congresswomen agreed starting at the local level is the best way to begin a political career.
“Your part is getting into your communities and solving local issues,” Ellmers said.
Based on their experiences in Congress, both said they observed female representatives doing the least amount of talking in Republican caucuses and committee hearings.
“And when a woman does talk, men think she’s dominated the entire conversation,” Foxx said, referring to common workplace situations.
Sinead Casey, director of public relations for the CRs, said even on campus the GOP can feel like an “all-boys club.”
“Our [executive] board now has four girls, and we needed a way to celebrate that,” Casey said.
Alumna Steffanie Burgevin, a founding member and former chair of the CRs in the late 1960s, said she was highly impressed with the event turnout, recalling how few conservatives she knew during her college career.
“That’s the kind of passion that’s never changed,” she said.
This article was updated on April 4, 2011 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly credited the above photo to Anne Wernikoff. The photo was taken by Gabriella Demczuk.