Nancy Pelosi: “From Homemaker to House Speaker”

BLFF Team | Nov 18, 2022


Yesterday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that she is stepping aside from her leadership role. “Never did I think I’d go from homemaker to House Speaker,” she said in an address on the House floor. She will serve her next term in Congress as a rank-and-file member. Here at GOTB, we are reflecting on Speaker Pelosi’s trailblazing career as the first woman ever to serve in this top leadership role.

Born in 1940 to a political family—her father Thomas D’Alesandro was a Congressman and Mayor—in Baltimore, Nancy Pelosi started her political career at age 47. She was first elected to represent California’s 12th district, San Franscisco, in 1987. After serving for over a decade, Pelosi won the position of House minority whip in 2001. In 2002, she became minority leader in the House. She then made history in 2007 as the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives—initially serving in the role for four years. She memorably invited her own grandchildren and the children and grandchildren of lawmakers to join her on the Congressional rostrum when she marked her rise to the Speaker role. In 2019, she resumed the Speakership when Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives.

Among Speaker Pelosi’s legislative accomplishments is supporting the Affordable Care Act under former President Barack Obama, and supporting the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law about sexual orientation in the military in 1993. She was also “one of the highest-profile, most outspoken opponents” of the war in Iraq in the early 2000s.

The Washington Post wrote that, during her tenure, Speaker Pelosi “earned a reputation for amassing power in the face of male colleagues who at times undermined her opinions.” Recently she has been known as a critic and opponent of former President Donald Trump—including when she famously tore up her copy of his 2020 State of the Union speech, saying “He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech,” and in 2019 when a photographer captured an image of Speaker Pelosi standing at a conference table of mostly men with her hand raised.

As Speaker Pelosi said, when she came to Congress there “were 12 Democratic women,” and “now there are over 90. And we want more.” The Speaker swore in the record number of women to serve in Congress over the course of the last two sessions—in 2019 and in 2021. During her tenure, she again made history during President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress in 2021, and during his 2022 State of the Union address, when she and Vice President Kamala Harris were the first two women to appear behind the President in those settings ever in history.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to keep track of all things gender and politics.

Join the Conversation