They are America’s most powerful women. The fourteen female U.S. senators currently in office have changed not only the face of power, but the exercise of power as well. Bringing women’s perspectives and life experiences to what has been described as America’s most exclusive (and exclusively male) club, female senators are emerging as powerbrokers in Congress, known for their bipartisan teamwork, compassion for social issues, ability to build coalitions, and use of unique tools for lawmaking.
This pioneering work of photojournalism documents all fourteen women in their day-to-day work as senators. Melina Mara’s candid images show the senators attending hearings, meeting the press, greeting their constituents, consulting with staff, legislating behind the scenes, and sharing private moments with colleagues and family. The photographs capture the demanding, 24/7 nature of the job and show clearly that the female senators more than hold their own among their male colleagues.
Accompanying the photos are a commentary by journalist Cokie Roberts, introductions by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and interviews between veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas and all of the senators. These pieces address women’s achievements in attaining political power and frankly describe the burdens and rewards of the office. The senators describe their motivations for being in the Senate, the challenges they’ve faced, the way they balance work and family, and the prospects for a woman winning the presidency in the coming years.
As Congress becomes a truly representative institution for the first time in its over-two-hundred-year history, the women who have been pathbreakers in the Senate well deserve this photographic tribute. Changing the Face of Power is at once headline news and a potent documentary record of a turning point in American and women’s history.
Melina Mara is a staff photographer at the Washington Post, covering Capitol Hill and politics. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including daily newspapers and weekly news magazines across the country. Mara has received numerous photojournalism awards from the National Press Photographers Association, Associated Press, and regional competitions. Her Women in the U.S. Senate photography exhibition, from which this book comes, opened at the Smithsonian Institution, where it was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, and continues to be exhibited around the country.