Philadelphia, a place of many firsts, will provide the backdrop for yet another important milestone – the first Presidential nomination of a woman by a major party. At a time when women still experience pay disparity and serious lack of representation at the CEO and Board levels, this event supersedes politics – it’s an historic time.
England has a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is noted as not just one of the most powerful women in the world, but one of the most powerful people. These strides give me hope.
Having a female Presidential nominee brings to light important conversations. Though there have been legitimate concerns raised against Clinton’s candidacy, there have also been arguments that carry notes of the lasting sexism in our society. What I believe her candidacy has done, in part, is allowed our country to become more conscious of how we view female leaders, what qualities we praise in them and those that we criticize. Are they different than how we assess and measure male candidates? We now have a national stage for which to examine these issues.
Hillary Clinton herself has noted that she is not the most traditionally charismatic candidate, but is that because she is a woman? She is often criticized for being out of touch, overly strategic in her presentation, and inauthentic. I can’t help but wonder, how much of this criticism is due to ingrained expectations for how women “should” be, while Clinton simply embodies what many male candidates have before her – political savviness and leadership. Regardless of one’s political leanings, it’s important that we take a hard look at how we react to a woman who rises to the level of a Presidential nominee. What message are we sending young women through the tone of how she is judged and measured as a candidate? We must make sure it’s equal, fair and comparable to how we assess the male Presidential candidates.
Will the nomination of Hillary Clinton continue to help girls born today see leadership as a possibility without question? Let’s hope that it will. I look forward to participating in many of the exciting events taking place in Philadelphia during the DNC next week, and to sharing my reflections with all of you. What questions has this election raised for you about women’s roles in politics and leadership in general? Are you feeling optimistic or concerned? I would love to hear your thoughts.