New York’s Kathy Hochul is the 45th female governor in US history. Why do women only account for 1.8% of governors?

New York’s Kathy Hochul is the 45th female governor in US history. Why do women only account for 1.8% of governors?
Demonstrators hold signs as they gather outside the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office calling for his resignation, in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S. March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
This isn’t just a New York problem. Hochul will be the 45th female governor in the entire country’s history of over 2,531 governors across all states, which is under 1.8%. In fact, including Hochul, nine of those governors are currently serving in their respective states.

Who’s Kathy Hochul?

  • Kathy Hochul, New York’s 62-year-old lieutenant governor, is relatively unknown outside of New York. She also definitely is not a household name like current Governor Andrew Cuomo.
  • But after some sexual misconduct scandals, which led Cuomo to resign, it seems like Hochul is taking on the limelight as she presses forward to become New York’s first female governor.
  • “I’m ready,” Hochul said. “I want people to know that I’m ready for this. It’s not something that we expected or asked for, but I am fully prepared to assume the responsibilities as the 57th governor of the state of New York.”
  • Hochul isn’t a stranger to politics, and, in fact, has spent many years preparing for the day she would become governor of New York.

What has her political journey looked like so far?

  • Hochul served as an aide for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan after graduating from Catholic University Columbus School of Law in 1984.
  • She gave back to her community in the small town of Hamburg, New York by serving on the town’s board from 1994 until 2007 when she started moving up the political chain.
  • Her first big gig in politics came as the county clerk, whose job is to maintain records for a district, which she was appointed to by Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned after a sexual misconduct scandal shortly after.
  • By 2011, Hochul gained a position in the House of Representatives to fill the position left by former Representative Christopher John Lee, who had also resigned after a sexual misconduct scandal.
  • Anyway, her trajectory continued to the point where she would eventually serve as lieutenant governor to Governor Andrew Cuomo who has recently resigned after a sexual misconduct scandal.

How many female governors are there?

  • Considering the past three governors have had some form of sexual misconduct scandals brought up against them, it’s not really surprising that a woman would struggle to break through the glass ceiling established by the previous administrations.
  • Hochul will be the 45th female governor in the country’s history of 2,531 governors, which means that women consist of just 1.77% of total governors. In fact, including Hochul, nine of those governors are currently serving in their respective states.
  • On top of that, four of the nine (44%) current female governors didn’t even get elected into their position and only entered office after the previously elected governor stepped down or was fired.
  • Even with Hochul’s appointment as governor of New York, there will still be 12 states in the US that have never had a female governor take office.

How are people responding to the transition?

  • For the most part, it seems as if most people are cautiously optimistic about Hochul’s transition into governor.
  • Some of Hochul’s peers, including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, offered their support of Hochul’s upcoming role as governor.
  • “She understands the complexities and needs of our state having been both a congresswoman, and having been lieutenant governor for the last several years,” Gillibrand said. “She is ready and able and capable of being an extraordinary governor, and I look forward to supporting her and helping her as she turns toward governing our state, in a very difficult and challenging time.”
  • Because of her background working in small towns across New York, even some of her Republican peers seem ready to accept her in her new role.
  • “Probably the best way to describe her, and it means something in today’s climate: She’s normal,” said Peter T. King, a former Republican representative who served with her in Congress.

What comes next?

  • For Hochul, the next thing that needs to be done is her actual appointment as governor of New York which does not happen until August 24 when Cuomo officially steps down.
  • From there, Hochul will mainly be focusing on slowing down COVID-19 case numbers in New York as the delta variant continues to spread across the country.
  • Apparently, she’s already assembled a team of health experts and is also planning to contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the president’s chief medical adviser, as part of her effort to “bring the best and brightest” over COVID-19 control.
  • But a focus for Hochul, who chairs the Women’s Suffrage Commission, is to establish a healthy work environment and to ensure that none of the outgoing governor’s misdeeds will be welcome in her administration.
  • “At the end of my term, whenever it ends, no one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” said Hochul.”

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