Sometimes important moments in history can be seen only in hindsight. It can take time to know just when the tide turned and to identify the decisive factor.

We hope that this election will prove to be one of those moments when we tell the story of women in American politics. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s race for the White House did not succeed, but it could make the path easier for the next woman who tries to become the first female president.

At the very least, this campaign exposed deep divisions over gender politics in this country that will not be forgotten when the last votes are counted.

Being a woman didn’t have anything to do with Clinton’s success. Her life in the political arena, as a lawyer, first lady, senator, secretary of state and two-time presidential candidate, gave her an unmatched resume in modern times. She has worked harder, studied more deeply and fought through more adversity than any other figure on the political scene.

But there is no question that being a woman has made her struggle much harder. Starting with her law school entrance exam, where she was heckled by male students who accused her of taking a man’s place, Clinton has had to overcome hurdles only faced by women.

As a public figure she has been held to standards that her male opponents didn’t face. Her hair and clothing are analyzed as intensely as her policy proposals. She is called “shrill” when she raises her voice, while men are described as “passionate.”

This is partly a problem of novelty. We have a clear image of how powerful men are supposed to look and act, but we don’t have the same experience with a woman, at least not on this level. After this election, that will not be true any more.

It’s sometimes hard to determine how much of Clinton’s difficulties came from her own missteps in decades of public life. But a clear double standard was in evidence when she was compared to Donald Trump during this campaign.

He repeatedly makes provably false statements while still getting higher poll ratings than her for trustworthiness. His history of demeaning and exploiting women, including a tape where he bragged about sexual bullying, was put out to the public, but it did not cost him the election. Clinton’s use of a private computer server became the focus of unprecedented public speculation by investigators that clearly hurt her, even though no wrongdoing has been uncovered.

Clinton did not break through the highest and hardest glass ceiling, but her historic campaign still matters. For the last year, every boy and girl has been able to look at a woman and see a plausible occupant of the world’s most powerful office.

It will take time to see how Clinton’s near miss will affect the next woman who shoots for this goal. We hope that we can look back at this election as the moment when things finally started to change.

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