Perhaps it is proximity to the District of Columbia, with the soon-to-be majority female membership on the City Council, as reported yesterday. Or perhaps it is just simply another example of the dropping of gender barriers. But we take note today that, for the first time in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives, Maryland will send a delegation to Washington that is evenly split between men and women.
With four women in its eight-member delegation, Maryland will in fact have one-fifth of the female representation, expected to be 20 members in the entire 435 voting member House. California, with its much larger 45-member delegation, comes in second, with three women -- two of them from San Francisco and its suburbs.
The election of Helen Delich Bentley from Maryland's 2nd District, which encompasses parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, adds to female representation by incumbents Marjorie S. Holt of the 4th District, Barbara J. Mikulski of the 3rd and Beverly B. Byron of the 6th.
But anyone who jumps to a conclusion that female politicians are automatically liberal politicians is dead wrong. Republicans Bentley and Holt are both rated as very conservative and Democrat Byron as conservative to moderate, leaving Democrat Mikulski -- who represents a Baltimore city district -- as the only avowed and unabashed liberal.
In addition to the present group, Maryland had sent only two women to Congress -- Katharine E. Byron (1941-43), Beverly Byron's mother-in-law, and Gladys N. Spellman (1975-81), both Democrats.
A footnote: Two two-member House delegations are half female, consisting of representatives Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Claudine Schneider (R-R.I.).