Think of the faces routinely seen on the front lines of community litter cleanups, school sports banquets, candidate forums, church meetings, farmers markets, downtown festivals and food kitchens.
Many are women. In some cases, a majority are women and have been for a long time.
Now, think of the elected officials running the municipal, state and national governments. Most are men. Nearly three-quarters of the officeholders are male. The public leadership does not mirror the population.
The situation is changing. This month, more women than ever before are beginning terms in public office across the U.S. Their numbers still fall far short of truly representative proportions, but change comes slowly and not in straight lines. Fifty-one percent of Americans are women. The 116th Congress, sworn in last week, is 23.7 percent female, a record. One-hundred and two U.S. House members are women, including 42 women of color, while females hold 25 seats in the U.S. Senate — all records. The House freshman class includes a record 36 women.
On the state level, a majority of the Democrats in the Indiana House are women. That is a first. Five of the seven statewide elected offices are held by women, and all are Republicans.
Often described as a "pink wave," the infusion of women serving in public office has reached Vigo County, too. Several took the oath for the first time in the last couple weeks.
Four of the seven Vigo County School Board members are women, setting up the first female majority on a local elected board in recent memory. The Terre Haute City Council chose Martha Crossen as its president for 2019 last week. The Indiana Association of County Commissioners elected Vigo County Commissioner Judy Anderson as its president.
And, veteran high school math teacher Tonya Pfaff won Terre Haute's District 43 seat in the Indiana House of Representatives. In addition to helping build a female majority in the House Democratic Caucus, Pfaff also becomes the first woman elected to represent Terre Haute in the Indiana House since Emma Mary Mae in 1944.