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After The Midterms, Massachusetts Women May Take New Policies To Public Office04:50
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Democrat Ayanna Pressley gives her victory speech at an election night party after being elected to represent Massachusetts' 7th congressional district, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Boston. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Democrat Ayanna Pressley gives her victory speech at an election night party after being elected to represent Massachusetts' 7th congressional district, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Boston. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

The 2018 midterms saw Massachusetts' voters electing a record number of women into public office, including the first woman of color in the state's congressional delegation.

Massachusetts now has four women in Congress, and 28.5 percent of the state Legislature is comprised of women.

Sava Berhané, a professor at Brandeis University and board member for the nonpartisan Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, joined WBUR Weekend Edition's Sharon Brody to discuss the expectations on those women as they begin to govern.

The following highlights have been lightly edited.

Interview Highlights

On what may change with more women in office

"The American Journal of Political Science found when women are elected, women support issues that are different than what men support, including education, health care and civil rights. They co-sponsor more bills than men do, and so I think we're going to see — both in the legislature and also in Congress — is a conversation around issues that affect women in their everyday lives.

"One of the things that I find absolutely fascinating about having more women in office is more women in politics are affecting what men begin to talk about in politics, seeing more men talk about issues of family and education and health care. So there's not just a change in the level of representation, but also a change in what issues are being spotlighted at the national level and at the local level."

On the question of gun legislation

"Right after the midterm election we have this mass shooting, so you have to ask yourself, with record levels of women entering the Congress, do we now have a different conversation about gun violence. I like to think that we will. I think we're going to see women be strategic about how to bring up the issue of gun violence and also how to bring up the issue of gun legislation that people of all backgrounds are willing to support."

"One of the things that I find absolutely fascinating about having more women in office is more women in politics are affecting what men begin to talk about in politics."

Sava Berhané

On what she's seeing in both parties

"This election proves that voters are interested in these issues [of education, health care and civil rights] in a way that is unprecedented. We need to have this same conversation not just about democratic women, but about republican women. I think women across parties are talking to their constituencies differently, and we need to see more of them."

This segment aired on November 11, 2018.

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