Sen. Capito continues to break glass ceiling in West Virginia politics

Womens History

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) is the first female U.S. Senator in West Virginia’s history. She followed her father’s journey into public office, but she has made a name for herself.

Ever since she was a little girl, Capito could remember her earliest memories about government politics.

“I remember as a young girl riding in parades, going to political dinners and listening to speeches…and I think that ignited an interest for me,” said Capito.

Capito recalls her trips to the state capitol with her father, former West Virginia Gov., Arch Moore, Jr. She watched his interactions with other legislators and citizens in the hallways. Capito said her father and mother, Shelley Moore, stressed the importance of interpersonal connections as she began her own political career.

“One of the things my dad, I remember telling me when I was at first campaigning, I was a little hesitant to go to what might be an unfriendly audience,” said Capito. “I was not sure if they were going to like me for either me, or the political party I was in. And his philosophy was, ‘Get in the room, because you could leave with just one friend. And if you leave with one, that was more than one that you had when you went in.'” 

In 2014, Capito was elected as the first female U.S. Senator in mountain state history. Capito was breaking the glass ceiling in a man’s world.

“I feel like my voice is just as loud as anybody else’s, and just as powerful,” said Captio. “But I have to make it that way myself. So if I have to elbow my way to the front of the line, or elbow my way to the front of the picture, I am going to do that.”

Capito said women in the Senate have been underrepresented, but she does not focus on that. Bonds among the women in the Senate go beyond political parties.

“We share these different challenges,” said Capito. “It is mostly about speaking up, being heard, not being afraid to challenge…and if you are not heard the first time, make sure you are heard the second time.”

In an effort to aspire the next generation of girls in West Virginia, Capito started West Virginia Girls Rise Up, a program to empower girls to reach their full potential throughout education, fitness and confidence.

“My own doubts when I was 10, 11, 12 years old and I did not like to talk in class…and now, I address people, probably hundreds of thousands of people, when I am on TV. You can, by practice, get better at this,” said Capito.

Capito said that a lot of the lessons she has learned growing up from her parents, and the lessons she has tried to teach her children, are useful lessons in life as they are in businesses: reach a compromise, you can’t get your way all the time, and try to figure a way through…not out; lessons that Capito said women can bring to the nation’s capital.

“Women such as me and many other working women out of this country…every day, we are getting up and our plate is so full,” said Capito. “It is full of personal things. It is full of professional things. It is full of ways we can enhance our lives, our own personal times. We do not have time to argue. We are much more action-oriented, and I think that that is a great thing for us to bring to the table as women.”

Capito said the woman leader she inspires to emulate is former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

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