Only a dozen black women have served as mayor of a major American city.
Baltimore has elected three in a row.
Sheila Dixon, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and now Catherine E. Pugh are products of a system that has developed an unusual concentration of female leaders.
The pipeline starts at neighborhood association meetings, community cleanups and PTA events. It can lead to elected positions on the City Council and in the state's attorney's office, the comptroller's office and — for some — the city's top job.
"When you have a history of women's leadership it becomes normalized, but it really isn't normal," said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah...