Tina Brown, of the New York Times, writes that “a new paradigm of female leadership is emerging.” She notes these recent examples:
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand responded immediately to the mass shooting of Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, by donning a hijab, or headscarf, in solidarity with her country’s Muslim citizens and passing legislation to ban the ownership and purchase of assault weapons in her country within one week of the shooting. Women all over New Zealand followed her example and wore headscarves. Brown notes that Ardern became “an iconic image of global humanity.”
- Several countries, from Georgia to Ethiopia, have recently elected their first female presidents.
- Women now lead in industries where previous leaders have been all men. For example:
- Women have the top jobs at both the New York Stock Exchange and at Nasdaq.
- Kathy Warden is now the CEO of Northrop Grumman.
- Four out of five of the biggest defense companies in the United States are now headed by women.
- Chicago just elected its first black female mayor.
- Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the Georgia gubernatorial race and is a Democratic leading light, just rejected the idea of running for vice president by announcing, “You don’t run for second place.”
- Forty-two new women were sworn into the United States Congress, bringing brilliance and passion.
- Nancy Pelosi, mother of five and grandmother of nine, runs circles around the president and keeps her diverse and fractious House Democratic Caucus together and strategically focused.
Brown goes on to note that “women have accumulated rich ways of knowing that until recently were dismissed in male circles of power.” She reflects that as women step into new roles, that wisdom is emerging.
Michelle Cottle cautions us to not buy into stereotypes of women in politics as being more collaborative and less ambitious than men. She cites two resources: one is an article written by Jennifer Lawless, a professor at the University of Virginia and expert on women in politics, and the other is a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Both sources do not support the hypothesis that women are more willing to compromise in politics. Cottle notes that while women bring fresh perspectives and different priorities and work styles, it is dangerous to have unrealistic expectations of women. In fact, we sometimes need female leaders who can be tough, unyielding, ambitious, and compassionate, like Nancy Pelosi and Jacinda Ardern, to tackle the complex problems facing our world.
Let’s celebrate these examples of emerging female leaders.
Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash