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Dole, Elizabeth (1936–)

Elizabeth Hanford Dole epitomizes the strides women have made in politics in the United States but also illustrates limitations faced by female candidates. Dole worked under six different presidents, and her career includes many “firsts” for women. She was the first female secretary of transportation (during the Reagan administration); the first female executive of the American Red Cross since its founder, Clara Barton; the first serious female contender for the Republican presidential nomination; and the first female senator from North Carolina.

Dole was born Elizabeth Hanford in 1936 in Salisbury, North Carolina, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. She excelled academically and was elected class president during her first year in high school. Dole then earned a degree in political science from Duke University and a ...

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