Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen, 60, a Nevada Democrat, talks about comfortable shoes, finding food on her first day of Congress and women working in STEM. She announced in July that she is running for the Senate.
Q: What has surprised you so far about Congress?
A: That really there’s just so much more camaraderie than I expected. When you start a new job, a lot of times everybody’s been there a long time and so you think, “Oh, it’s going to take me a while to make friends and do all that.” On both sides of the aisle, we have a great freshman class. Just making new friendships, people welcoming you, inviting you to go eat or ride with them. That’s been terrific.
Q: What’s the worst advice you’ve received since coming to Congress?
A: I don’t think I’ve really gotten bad advice. The best advice that I didn’t listen to, honestly, was to wear comfortable shoes right away. If I ever write a book, “I Should Have Worn Comfortable Shoes” would be the title. So, I think it’s more what people didn’t warn me about. Like, really, wear the comfortable shoes. Right away. Don’t wait until your feet are killing you.
Q: You were a computer programmer before Congress. How did being in a male-dominated field prepare you for this?
A: I think it prepared me in ways of analysis and preparation. So, when you work in a male-dominated field as a woman, you know you have to walk into a meeting, ready with your arguments to go. You know you’re going to be grilled and you better be ready for that. So that absolutely has prepared me for being here. I think the other thing, just being a computer person, or anybody in STEM, you have this logical way of thinking and looking at systems as a whole. … I think that instructs me how to look at legislation.
Q: What advice would you give a young woman discouraged about getting into technology?
A: The first thing I tell women is this: They think that coding or being in any computer field is very solitary, very solemn, that you’re just set off in a cubicle somewhere and it’s not social and it’s not creative. I would tell them that it’s the furthest from the truth. I’ll use the analogy of a piano. If you have a piano in your house, you can be a kid who … makes noise or you can be Beethoven or Mozart. Depending on the kind of code you write, depending on the kind of ideas you have, you can be creative in problem-solving and you can really make things work in a very gratifying way.
A: The bologna sandwich. It was the best bologna sandwich we ever ate in our lives. We shared that bologna sandwich on the first day. You don’t realize you’re going to be there all day. You don’t know there’s food in the Cloakroom. So we ran in there and it was the last — literally, the last — sandwich they had, and nothing ever tasted so good. Fritos and bologna, there’s like a childhood lunch, but it’s comfortable.
Last book read: From a woman who’s a friend of mine, Laura McBride, called “’Round Midnight.”
Last movie seen: “Hidden Figures.”
Favorite song of all time: I love my husband, we’ve been married over 24 years, so I must pick my wedding song, “Our Love Is Here to Stay.”
Role models: My late mother-in-law, my late mother. I just think of so many of my friends that are … just doing good things, maybe don’t get a newspaper headline, and those are the women that inspire me every day.