This week my muse is a question. Will a woman ever be elected president in the U.S.?
Is it true that the same assertiveness we applaud in men, we often cringe at in women as political journalist Maggie Astor suggested last week in “A Woman, Just Not That Woman” featured in the New York Times Gender Letter delivered to my in-box?
Astor notes: “Few Americans acknowledge they would hesitate to vote for a woman for president — but they don’t have to, according to researchers and experts on politics and women and extensive research on double standards in campaigns.”
A few years back a Harvard Business Review article reported that women scored higher than men on 8 out of 10 qualities connected to strong leadership. Two of those qualities include “taking initiative” and “driving for results.”
But if women possess admirable leadership qualities, the number of women leading Fortune 500 companies (which has decreased since 2011) tells a different story. In 2018, it was reported that only 25 of Fortune 500 companies are led by women.
We can be heartened by the new class of women who have entered Congress in the midterm election last November and by the number of women who have stepped up already to run for President. Is this the election that will break the Presidential glass ceiling for women or will it again be elusive?
Let me end with the words of one of my favorite muses, Virginia Woolf, who wrote at length about how little women were taken seriously in public life not too many decades ago:
“A woman knows very well that, though a wit sends her his poems, praises her judgment, solicits her criticism, and drinks her tea, this by no means signifies that he respects her opinions, admires her understanding, or will refuse, though the rapier is denied him, to run through the body with his pen.” (Orlando)