I’m one of those who got weepy when Hillary Clinton locked up the Democratic nomination for President. Not because I am a Democrat or even a fan — but because it’s historical. I felt the same way when we elected our first African American President.
Hillary Clinton isn’t the first woman to enter the race for the presidency; since 1872, ten women have done so. (Of course, Clinton herself ran eight years ago.) But none have gotten this far. Having a woman nominated by a major party seems like a big deal. The “glass ceiling” has a huge crack in it! Now there is a chance the U.S. could join other nations that have been led by a woman – India, Germany, Ireland, the UK, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Chile . . .
I celebrate because Clinton’s candidacy shows progress for women – a lowering of barriers and an opening of possibilities. In my work, I talk about how far women have come – and how far women still have to go. Women are nowhere near proportionally represented in government or business. But this historical event moves the needle more than a little. Now girls won’t have to look across an ocean to see the possibility of being the head of government.
I celebrate because of what it can do to our definitions and images of leadership. They are gendered, reflecting the fact that, for centuries, leaders have been disproportionally white male. As more women reach the upper levels, this is slowly (slowly) changing. There are now 21 women CEO’s in the S&P 500 (4.2%), 20 U.S. Senators (20%), 104 women members of Congress (19.4%), three women members of the U.S. Supreme Court (30%) and 60 women judges currently sitting on the 13 federal courts of appeal (35%).
Having a woman candidate for our highest office can’t hurt what comes to our mind when we think of leadership!