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The X Factor: Women in New England Politics
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The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that guarantees and protects women’s right to vote. To commemorate this momentous chapter in American history, WSBE Rhode Island PBS premieres The X Factor: Women in New England Politics on January 1, 2021 at 8 p.m.

A Rhode Island PBS Original, the documentary sheds light on some of the trailblazing woman politicians in New England. The 2020 re-election campaign of first-term Rhode Island Representative Justine Caldwell acts as the narrative thread between the past, present, and future of women in New England politics.

Caldwell's recollections of her 2018 campaign intersect with interviews with current and former politicians, including Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island’s first woman governor; former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet, the first female attorney general in the United States; Janet Mills, the first woman district attorney in New England and the first female governor of Maine; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, the first woman elected both as a governor and a U.S. senator in American history; and former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin, the first woman in U.S. history to have been elected governor of a state three times.

In the 2018 mid-term elections, women won in record numbers to the U.S. Congress, governorships, and state legislatures. Yet despite breaking records for candidacy and office-holding that year, women continue to remain less than one-third of elected officials in the U.S.

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However, since the inauguration of Connecticut Governor Ella Grasso in 1974, the first woman governor to be elected to office, New England boasts greater female representation in state legislatures than the national average.

Determined to discover why that is so,The X Factor: Women in New England Politics outlines the history of New England women politicians, while emphasizing the continued importance of women’s voices in politics, and the work that must be done to increase their representation.

Funding for The X Factor: Women in New England Politics is provided by


(May 2021 Update) The X Factor: Women in New England Politics is an official selection for the 2021 Made Here Film Festival, presented by the Vermont International Film Festival in partnership with Vermont PBS. Dedicated to films and filmmakers from Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, upstate New York, and Québec, the virtual event showcases a series of short films and feature-length documentaries, including The X Factor: Women in New England Politics. The film is available for on-demand viewing at For more information about the festival, click here.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits over the air in high definition on digital 36.1; Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; Comcast 819HD and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD in MA; DirecTV 36, Dish Network 36; stream at