BOSTON (CBS) – For women old enough to remember when the sight of a woman holding high political office in this country was highly unusual, the formal nomination of Hillary Clinton Tuesday was a moment to pause and reflect. Not so long ago, the sight of female elected leaders in India, Argentina and Israel was a distant oddity to us.

Why did it take us so long to even nominate a women to be a major-party presidential candidate? Lots of reasons, most of them cultural. Other countries have had queens as role models – we don’t do royalty here. American sexism has proven to be a robust character flaw.

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But while Clinton is the first to break through, the gender gap in politics has been narrowing for a while. Since 1992, the number of women in Congress has tripled. There are now 20 female senators, more than ever before.

Yes, that’s only one-fifth of the Senate seats for half the population. But the pace of change has been accelerating.

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And maybe the best indication of equality on the march is the fact that Hillary Clinton is, for the most part, treated the same way her male counterparts are, for better or worse.

Yes, women in politics still face sexist double-standards. They are too often required to prove their toughness in ways men are not, and there is undue emphasis on their appearance. Barack Obama’s election and re-election didn’t neutralize race as a political factor, and a Clinton victory wouldn’t mean we’re finally gender-blind.

We will find out in November how much of that old bigotry still exists.

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In the meantime, take note of what happened Tuesday. Love Clinton or loathe her, it’s progress.

Jon Keller