SKDK’s Karen Olick on Sen. Barbara Boxer’s First Days in Congress

The Senate was a different place when Boxer first got there. There wasn’t even a women’s bathroom off the Senate floor. The male-dominated chamber looked warily on the women who were elected in 1992.

“When they arrived, they had to prove that they were there not just to make a point, but to make a difference,” said Karen Olick, a former Boxer chief of staff.

Boxer wanted to join the Commerce Committee, but its then-chairman, Sen. Fritz Hollings, a conservative Democrat from South Carolina, wasn’t sure Boxer would be a team player.

“It took time,” Olick said, “but once senators saw that Barbara was serious about getting things done, she gained not only their trust, but their respect.”