( 1935-), member of Congress, Democratic vice-presidential candidate
"The shining achievement of the women's movement has been to forever transform expectations. And the world will never be the same again" ( Ferraro, Direct Mail, September 12, 1985). Whether Geraldine Ferraro's vice-presidential nomination in 1984 is seen as an example of one individual "making history" or representative of the millions of Americans who shared her expectations for women and for the nation, her candidacy did transform expectations. Moreover, whatever else she did, Ferraro was a compelling example of what it means to "'come to terms' with terms"--both with the basic lexicon of electoral politics and with some central terms of our broader social dialogue. In doing so, she offered a sharp and often painful lesson of what it means to "speak like a woman" in a political domain inhabited primarily by men speaking a male- constructed lexicon.
Geraldine Ann Ferraro was born in 1935, the child of Dominick and Antonetta Ferraro. When she was 8, her once comfortable world changed to one of reduced circumstances when her father died, and she moved with her family to the South Bronx. There, in the garment district, to support her two children, her mother took a job crocheting beads on dresses.
With the strong encouragement of her mother, Ferraro won scholarships to Marymount School, a boarding school, and Marymount College in Manhattan. There she "tinkered" with the idea of becoming a journalist, but she also took teacher-education courses at Hunter College. Upon graduation, she taught school, and she also took night classes in law at Fordham University and graduated in 1960. Shortly after passing the bar exam, she married but decided to keep her birth name 'in tribute" to her mother.