Would the world be more peaceful if women were in charge? A challenging new book by the Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker says that the answer is “yes.”
In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker presents data showing that human violence, while still very much with us today, has been gradually declining. Moreover, he says, “over the long sweep of history, women have been and will be a pacifying force. Traditional war is a man’s game: tribal women never band together to raid neighboring villages.” As mothers, women have evolutionary incentives to maintain peaceful conditions in which to nurture their offspring and ensure that their genes survive into the next generation.
Skeptics immediately reply that women have not made war simply because they have rarely been in power. If they were empowered as leaders, the conditions of an anarchic world would force them to make the same bellicose decisions that men do. Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, and Indira Gandhi were powerful women; all of them led their countries to war.
But it is also true that these women rose to leadership by playing according to the political rules of “a man’s world.” It was their success in conforming to male values that enabled their rise to leadership in the first place. In a world in which women held a proportionate share (one-half) of leadership positions, they might behave differently in power.
By her own example, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook demonstrates all that women can achieve when they have the talent, drive and opportunity to succeed, and she is paving the way for other women to follow her path to the top (“The $1.6 Billion Woman, Staying on Message,” Feb. 5).
But research cautions that there are many other barriers, some invisible, that continue to block women from success: subtle and not-so-subtle biases about what constitutes leadership, a lack of mentors and sponsors to pull women through the pipeline, and a corporate culture that may lack flexibility and other policies to enable women to advance.
Women’s representation on Fortune 500 boards continues to languish. With women accounting for a majority of Facebook users, it is in the company’s interest to ensure that women are represented throughout decision-making. Let’s hope that when the company goes public, Ms. Sandberg’s trailblazing will include inviting women onto the board. Linda Basch, Ph.D.
Manhattan, Feb. 6
The writer is president of the National Council for Research on Women.•
U.K. companies may face quotas unless they promote more women to board level, Prime Minister David Cameron warned, saying businesses are “failing” the economy by not having enough females in senior positions.
From Business Week:
Appointing women as directors and encouraging them as entrepreneurs is “about quality, not just equality,” Cameron said at a meeting of the Northern Future Forum in Stockholm today.
“The case is overwhelming that companies are run better if we have men and women alongside each other,” Cameron said in a round-table discussion. “If we can’t get there in other ways I think we have to have quotas.”
The U.K. is working to implement the recommendations of a February 2011 report by Mervyn Davies on increasing the number of women on boards, it said in a submission to the meeting. As a result, women now make up 15 percent of directors of companies in the benchmark FTSE 100 Index, up from 12.5 percent last year, and there are now only 10 all-male boards in the FTSE, down from 21 last year.
Starting in October, as a result of a new provision in the U.K. corporate-governance code, companies will have to report on their policy for boardroom diversity and how they are making progress in delivering it.
We all know that women and girls are not showing up on a leadership trajectory, a position that would otherwise seem consistent with their increased rates of higher education, business ownership, workforce participation and other factors.
Back in 1993, I created a high-profile initiative called Take Our Daughters To Work that bears many similarities to the new campaign from the Girl Scouts and Nike’s campaign. Carol Gilligan’s seminal book, ‘In A Different Voice,’ provided the research orientation and Take Our Daughters To Work succeeded in mobilizing more than 70 million people on behalf of girls.
Yet, the research, the campaigns, and the web sites just keep on coming.
CAWP offers fact sheets, graphics, research reports, and other information organized both by topic and by level of office. Additional research can be found in our Research & Scholarship section. Includes current numbers of women in elective office, data and analysis for current and past races with women candidates, by election year, data and analysis of women's voting behavior, facts, research, and resources for and about women of color in elective office, state-by-state fact sheets, firsts for women in U.S. politics, etc.
The moniker was famously applied in 1992 when four women were elected to the Senate, a high watermark for the chamber that has never been surpassed.
This year, however, a notable number of candidates are running in potentially competitive races in both the House of Representatives and Senate that could send a wave of female lawmakers to Washington in November. If so, it would reverse the 2010 election trend that saw the first dip in female representation in the House since 1978 and only sent one woman, New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, to the Senate.
In the 2012 Senate lineup, there are 10 female candidates — four Republicans and six Democrats — seeking office. Of the six states with female Democratic candidates — Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota and Wisconsin — none has ever elected a woman to the Senate.
Republican women are running in Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico.
"Both parties have made a concerted effort to attract more women candidates," said Jessica Taylor, a senior analyst for the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. Taylor said campaign operations are cognizant of seeking out diverse candidates and female candidates can be particularly appealing because independent female voters are often a decisive voting bloc in elections.
As black women watch Michelle Obama on the national stage, they search — sometimes nervously — for nuances often lost on the larger culture. How she handles criticism, how she raises her children, even her style of dress, has the potential to counter negative stereotypes.
In a nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, black women described themselves as relating to Michelle Obama and sensing that she understands them. Nearly eight out of 10 black women say they personally identify with the first lady, and when asked to give a one-word description of Obama, among the words most commonly used were “intelligent,” “strong” and “classy.”
In follow-up interviews, black women say the first lady’s racial and gender identity are essential to the deep connection they feel they have to her. They call her a role model, someone familiar to them — like a sister or aunt.
That emotional stake makes watching Obama navigate the world stage both “thrilling and terrifying,” says Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University who has written aboutthe first lady’s impact on black women.
Imagine a time with equal representation of ALL women on boards, at the CEO position and in the c-suite. There'd be no more talk of "breaking the glass ceiling." There would be no glass ceiling. Nor would there be talk of "being the first." The presence of strong female leaders would be the norm.
In 1965, affirmative action was established. It was amended in 1967 to ensure that women and minorities were provided opportunities to be considered for job placement. In theory, it served as the catalyst for creating opportunities. Unfortunately, not everyone was ready to meet the new employee requirements. As a result, even in the 21st century women are still struggling to find their place and voice in corporate America.
According to The Atlantic, in 2010, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. For every two men that got a college diploma last year, three women did the same. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women now hold 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs -- up from 26.1% in 1980. They make up 54% of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America's physicians are now women, as are 45% of associates in law firms -- and both those percentages are rising quickly.
The pink elephant in the living room that isn't being talked about is this: White women have been the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action. So much so that their presence at mid- to senior-levels dramatically outpace women of color by 4 to 1. In Fortune 500 companies, 2010 numbers show that white women held 12.7% of board seats as compared to women of color holding 3% of the board seats.
After years of progress, the number of female lawmakers in the U.S. slipped in the last election cycle. Leslie Bennetts on a new drive to change that—and why the country will be better off for it.
From the Daily Beast:
“Women are 51 percent of the population, but we have flatlined at 17 percent in Congress, with 17 women in the Senate, six women governors, and 23 percent of state legislators around the country,” says Tracey Hyams, director of Political Parity, a non-partisan coalition of leaders who have joined forces to increase the number of women in office.
In the last election cycle, frustration turned to alarm as women’s representation actually lost ground. “There was a net loss of 81 legislative seats for women,” reports Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. “It was the first time we’ve gone down in 30 years.”