The growth of female political leaders has stalled, but women politicos are beginning to show up in a different place of power in Washington: as the leaders of high-tech lobbying operations.

Susan Molinari (center) (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

In one of her first public appearances as Google’s head of public policy, former Republican congresswoman Susan Molinari spoke to a room full of women leaders about the challenges of boosting the numbers of females in politics.

Juggling the demands of family and professional life are one thing. As a mother, shielding children from public attacks can be bruising enough to make women think twice about a political career, she added.

“It’s undeniably a rough ride you have to take,” Molinari said at the Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner hosted at the State Department Monday evening. In the audience were other D.C. operatives representing Silicon Valley, including Marne Levine, the head of Facebook’s government operations.

Molinari added: “You raise kids who will go to school and read these things.”

Molinari, however, said those hurdles shouldn’t prevent women from running for elected positions. She said to the room of corporate executives, foundation presidents and political leaders that they all have been given more privileges than “99 percent of your sisters” and should become leaders in their own fields.


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