06.03.1312:13 PM ET

Senate Women Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Especially on Senate Armed Services Committee.

The record number of women in the Senate are already having a serious impact on important committees, nowhere more so than on the Armed Services Committee. The seven female senators on that powerful panel have forced action on the crisis of sexual assault in the military, a problem that has festered for years. “When I raised the issue of rape in the military seven years ago, there was dead silence,” Florida Democrat Bill Nelson told The New York Times. “Clearly they are changing things around here.” But women aren’t just taking the lead on matters related to gender—Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a former prosecutor, has made war profiteering her signature issue. The Times suggests that Hillary Clinton, who, seeking to burnish her national-security credentials, served on the committee and built strong relationships with top generals, created a model “of how female senators could be as influential on the panel as the men.”