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Women in the midterm elections: Do numbers equal progress?

This is an extended, web-exclusive version of a segment that aired on Friday, Oct. 29.

If 1992 was known as “The Year of the Woman,” in political terms, 2010 can claim the title of “The Year of the Most Women.” A record-breaking 298 women have filed to run for House and Senate seats. The lion’s share of media attention this year has gone to Republicans and Tea Party candidates backed by Sarah Palin, whose said this in a recent ad produced by her political action committee, Sarah PAC:

“Here in Alaska, I always think of the mama grizzly bears that rise up on their hind legs when someone’s coming to attack their cubs, to do something adverse to their cubs. You thought pitbulls were tough … you don’t want to mess with the mama grizzlies.”

Though they don’t have memorable nicknames like “mama grizzlies,” there are more Democratic women running this year than Republicans. To help us decide whether the  numbers equal progress, Need to Know’s Alison Stewart spoke with Rebecca Traister, a senior writer at and author of the new book, “Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women,” and Melissa Harris-Perry, associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University.