How Nancy Pelosi Broke The Glass Ceiling

During the uncertainty and turmoil that overtook the Capitol building during the insurrection on January 6, 2021, one person tried to steady the ship — speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. As seen in new videos recorded on the day, Pelosi made sense of the situation amongst her colleagues (via The Guardian). Then, having been transported to safety, Pelosi stated that "there has to be some way we can maintain the sense that people have that there is some security and confidence that government can function and that you can elect the president of the United States."

Shown during a public hearing into the Capital riots (via The New York Times), the footage shows how Pelosi can steer a crisis as a leader, even when the outcome wasn't entirely clear at the time. Having been the first woman to be elected Democratic leader and speaker of the House of Representatives (via ABC News), Pelosi has overcome many obstacles to break the glass ceiling of American politics. But how did she do it?

Nancy Pelosi has always believed in herself before anyone else

For Nancy Pelosi, it's never solely been about gender. "I have always said, in my own rise in the leadership, please don't ever ask anybody to vote for me because I'm a woman," the speaker of the United States House of Representatives told PBS News Hour. "That happens to be, in my view, an enhancement, but, nonetheless, it's all about who is the best person for the job."

Pelosi has undoubtedly been that person to many, including the Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein who said that under her leadership, the 111th Congress was "one of the most productive Congresses in history" (via the Harvard Radcliffe Institute). Her most supportive believer, however, is herself. "When you put yourself out there, you have to believe that you are the one that can do the job," she said during a visit to the McCourt School of Public Policy.

That's not to say Pelosi hasn't faced challenges as a woman in politics. "I get some names called, because if you're effective as a woman, then they have to undermine you, because that's a real threat," she told CNN Politics. But she counteracted that doubt with self-belief. "You know why I do it? I do it, because I want women to see that you do not get pushed around. You don't run away from the fight."

Pelosi advises women to take ownership in all political issues

Under Nancy Pelosi's leadership as speaker of the United States House of Representatives, she has been instrumental in passing some of the country's most important pieces of legislation. This includes the Affordable Care Act, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (via Pelosi's website). For Pelosi, "every issue is a women's issue," as she told CNN Politics. "Women take ownership of it all because that's what it takes to be the president of the United States."

The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a crucial piece of legislation for Pelosi to get through Congress, as it resorted to "the ability of women and all workers who are protected by anti-discrimination and civil rights laws" to have the right to challenge their employers about pay discrimination. Named after the activist Lilly Ledbetter, who fought for ten years to close the pay gap between men and women in the United States, the Ledbetter Fair Pay act was signed into law when former president Barack Obama first took office in 2009 (via Ledbetter's website).