“In a few words, what do you think it will take to make a woman president?” Parity posed this question to more than 150 attendees of an event promoting women’s leadership at the highest levels of political office. Their responses varied, but the overall message is clear:
Front and center: “Support Women.” Our work is cut out for us.
Nearly 1 in 4 countries worldwide has elected a woman leader since the end of WWII—either as head of government or head of state. The United States is not one of them. While a number of women have run for our top office, and several are considered strong contenders for 2016, no woman has yet shattered our nation’s highest glass ceiling.
Last week, Political Parity launched “A Woman President,” an online collection of reflections, research, and resources. We also held an event in DC—sponsored by Deloitte Consulting LLP and co-hosted by Feminist.com, Women Under Forty PAC, and Running Start— exploring the central inquiry of Marianne Schnall’s book: What Will it Take to Make a Woman President? Six thought leaders, guided by moderator Marjorie Clifton, shared their thoughts on how to encourage more women to enter public life and foster their development up to the presidency.
So, what will it take? Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton said candidates will need “some guts… and self-confidence,” and she highlighted the importance of parties attracting candidates from a diverse array of backgrounds. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, emphasized the importance of “[knowing] the difference between your principles and your preferences.” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen underscored bipartisan dialogue and interaction, shouting out to her teammates on the Congressional Women’s Softball squad.
NFL veteran Don McPherson discussed the need to dismantle hypermasculinity, because right now “We don’t raise boys to be men. We raise boys to not be women.” Marie Wilson, founder of The White House Project, advocated for “young women to start running in high school.” She added: “We have no pipeline. You can’t start at the top of the spigot.” Deloitte Principal Janet Foutty explained that women in leadership need to be open about their full responsibilities– personal and professional – and offer mentorship to younger colleagues.
Forty-four men and zero women have served as president in our 238-year history. Women comprise more than 50 percent of the population and constitute a clear majority of voters in each election. We’re ready for a woman in the White House.