United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California has become a heroine to many of us, especially millennials, since she stood up for her principles and refused to attend President Trump’s inauguration or his first speech to Congress. Her willingness to speak honestly about her values and beliefs has won the respect of people in all age groups. As Sarah D. Wire reports for the Los Angeles Times, Waters explained that she doesn’t honor this president because of “his insulting comments about former presidential rivals Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton, the lewd ‘Access Hollywood’ video in which he bragged about grabbing women and his mocking imitation of a disabled reporter.” In addition, Lottie L. Joiner of Crisis Magazine reports that Waters is determined to do what she can to stop Trump’s agenda of undermining African American contributions to our democracy.
Here is a piece of good news for all of us: women’s involvement in politics is skyrocketing. The ways to get involved are endless, including petitioning Congress, attending meetings and rallies for causes you support, holding elected officials accountable for their votes, registering voters, and running for office. Running for office can include running for school board, town council, state legislature, governor, or US Congress. Gail Collins of the New York Times writes that “groups that help prepare women to run for office are reporting an unprecedented number of website visits, training-school sign-ups and meeting attendance.”
When President Trump and Melania Trump visited France this July, President Trump’s first action was to look First Lady of France Brigitte Macron up and down and pronounce her to be “fit.” Trump said to her, “You’re in such good shape.” He then turned to the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and said, “She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful.” Clearly uncomfortable, Brigitte Macron grabbed Melania’s arm and stepped back away from Trump. This incident was broadcast live around the world.
What message does it send when the American President treats the First Lady of France like a sex object?
Many women and men are still wary of working together when their work requires them to have one-on-one meetings or to travel together for business. New research reported by Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times reveals that almost two-thirds of the 5,282 registered voters surveyed by the New York Times say, “People should take extra caution around members of the opposite sex at work.” Miller notes that these results also partially explain “why women still don’t have the same opportunities as men. . . . They [women] are treated differently.”
Do you know a woman who has recently decided to run for office? Suddenly, I know several. Brittany Bronson, writing for the New York Times, explains that the 2016 presidential election “was a wake-up call for American women, one that has inspired their increased grassroots activism and political involvement.” One of the main reasons that women have been so poorly represented in government in the past is that few women ran for office. That is changing, and the results will be good for all of us.
In 2005, the women of Liberia elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first female president of an African nation, and we can learn a lot by examining how they did it. In a recent article for the New York Times, Helene Cooper, a reporter who grew up in Liberia before immigrating to the United States in 1980, tells the story of how Liberian women got Sirleaf elected, highlighting valuable lessons for American women.
I love Spain and have spent a lot of time there for work and leisure travel. I was, therefore, particularly interested in an article by Raphael Minder in the New York Times reporting that women in Spain have achieved greater parity in their national parliament, the Cortes Generales, than we have made in the US Congress. Women make up 40 percent of the Spanish Cortes while, according to the Rutgers Center for Women in Politics, women hold only 19.4 percent of all seats in the US Congress.
Many of my female coaching clients are told in their performance feedback that they need to be “less emotional” and to “smile more.” This feedback occurs so often that my colleagues and I joke about it when we talk about the unfair feedback that our female clients receive.
The spectacle of Senator Elizabeth Warren being silenced by a man in a male-dominated organization—in this case on the floor of the US Senate—was very familiar to many women. And then, as is typical, four men stood up and read aloud the same letter she had been reading—they were not silenced.
What a delight to read about Caroline Kennedy’s successful tenure as the United States Ambassador to Japan! As reported by Moroko Rich in the New York Times, Caroline Kennedy, who was appointed to the position by President Barack Obama, was the first woman to hold the post in Japan, a traditionally male-dominated society. While mocked unfairly by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, she was, in fact, a trusted and respected diplomat who managed relations well with one of our most important allies. In addition, she built strong relationships in government and business communities as well as with the broader public.