What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?

Don't present it as a "woman's issue." Sell it as diversity of opinion.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jin Lee / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, speaks during the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013.

“Why haven’t we ever had a woman President?” Spurred by this question from my then 8-year-old daughter, I set out to find the answer by interviewing the most influential journalists, activists, politicians and thought leaders of today, such as Sheryl Sandberg, Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Nancy Pelosi, Nicholas Kristof, Melissa Etheridge and Olympia Snowe. Obviously, there is no one simple answer. Though the people I spoke with all contributed their own unique insights and perspectives, some common themes emerged.

1. Don’t present it as a “women’s issue” — it’s a human issue. Getting a woman into the White House needs to be reframed as an essential component of a reflective democracy. This isn’t an issue of equality but of performance. As Nancy Pelosi told me, “To have diversity of opinion in the debate strengthens the outcome and you get a better result.” Sell it as that.

2. Send the right signals. We need women and girls to see themselves as leaders, break out of stereotypical roles and value their own voices and visions. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says, “The most important message for women is that they can do it. That you can find a way to balance a career and family — that there is a way that you can be part of the decisionmaking fabric of this country and still be a good mother.”

3. Stop stereotyping strong, ambitious women. Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, noted that one obstacle to women’s leadership is, “as a woman gets more successful, she is less liked by people of both genders, and as a man gets more successful, he does not take a likability hit.” Then again, as Steinem pointed out, women also shouldn’t feel dependent on being liked, as much as the culture encourages them to do so. “You just go forward, and you end up changing the image eventually, and you may take a lot of punishment along the way,” she told me.

(MORE: Why I Want Women to Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg)

4. Support working mothers in general. We need better policies, such as family leave, better child-care options and pay equity, before many women will feel comfortable taking on additional roles as leaders. We also need to help men break out of their own stereotypical roles, so they too can share in the responsibilities of taking care of the home and family. As Sandberg told me, “We cannot have equality in the office until we have equality in the home.”

5. Monitor the portrayal of women in the media. Sexist news coverage and the sexualization and objectification of women and girls in television and magazines impact not only a woman’s self-perception but how men view women as well. Studies show that when media coverage focuses on a female politician’s appearance, she pays a price in the polls. Many interviewees pointed to the sexist media coverage that Hillary Clinton was subjected to during her 2008 campaign — with commentators saying things like, “When Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear ‘Take out the garbage’” — and expressed the need for fair and accurate coverage. The media need to be held accountable, and we all need to be conscious about what media we consume and support.

21 comments
IgnacioSanabria
IgnacioSanabria

''The Citizen'' my next novel, will narrate the story of two childhood female friends. One will become the first president of the United States, the other one, will become a plain but happy housewife.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

Sad to say, but if celebrities are any measure by which to gauge the popularity of females in the U.S., a sex tape would probably do it. 

hlosukwakha
hlosukwakha

True senior lady. it's high time we got civilized and start to see people as people not as either male or female. Soon we'll be talking about a gay female president and a straight female president.

ucheharpers
ucheharpers

After Bush I realised you don't need brains to be president, you just need to stay alive and talk...

Phoenicia
Phoenicia

Since Time Magazine does not accept my statements, I doubt very seriously that women will be given a fair hearing in this magazine.  When your magazine quits silencing women, you might have the right to discuss women in leadership roles.  Until then, I see you as just another propaganda tool in the hands of corruption.

DJNITTI
DJNITTI

All valid points and while I would like to see a woman president, and would certainly vote for a qualified woman candidate. I would hope that when people are choosing a candidate they are looking at the qualifications first and foremost.  Voting for a woman just because it's time for a woman president is ridiculous to me. This is the most important job in the world and we need the absolute best in that office, be it man or woman.   

KristinScott20
KristinScott20

<!-- I simply got paid $9000 operating off my laptop computer this month. And if you're thinking that it is cool, and you also want to earn money then you are on the right way just go to this site for amazing details..........>

u48.o-->

acaffar2
acaffar2

It would be helpful if they stopped only considering liberal women as being worthy or respect. 

Yoshi
Yoshi

Nominate Elizabeth Warren. Less drama, fewer skeletons, scandals, and outright lies.

DavidStrayer
DavidStrayer

If Hillary Clinton runs for president, she seeks election not just as a president for and of the women of this country, but as one of us all, and for us all.  If she wins, she becomes the president of all Americans.  She should not and, I believe, will not accept the label of a "female" or "woman" candidate.  She would be, simply, a candidate.

Everything she has said and done in recent years indicates that her candidacy would be predicated on the fact that she can lead us all and intends to promote an agenda that benefits all Americans.  She has conveyed a level of sophistication and caring that befit a President.

I, for one, believe that there is no Republican alive who can even approach her qualifications and who has the interests of all Americans at heart.  

The GOP is the party of old, bigoted, crotchety white people and wishes all the rest of the citizenry would just disappear.  Republicans look longingly towards a past that existed only in their fantasies and want to recreate that never-land.  Hillary and the Democrats embrace the future and the interests of us all.

While there is obviously a long time between now and 2016, she embodies the hopes of many of us for a better future for all of us.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@PhoeniciaYour attitude and hyperbole does more of a disservice to your cause than Time Magazine ever could.  They have no obligation whatsoever to give you a podium.  This is their venue, their resources, their money they spend and make to put this out, not yours.

If you want to say something and feel silenced by Time, go start your own magazine.

By the way, your first sentence was what's known as a hasty generalization fallacy.  The implication in your statement that you represent ALL women (because Time doesn't accept your statements, they won't accept them from all women) is the grossest of hyperbole.

Your second sentence was a begging the claim fallacy, by stating something that was not in evidence anywhere in either your statement or in the article.  There is no evidence whatsoever that Time Magazine in any way "silences" women at all, let alone in general.  Apparently, just you.

And, speaking of rights, Time has the right to say whatever it wants to say, under the First Amendment.  Because it's not part of any level of government, it doesn't HAVE to provide YOU with First Amendment protections, nor, as I said, a venue from which you can spread your message.

Finally, your attitude indicates a much higher degree of likelihood that it's you, personally, with whom they have issues than they do with women in general.  Time filters posts based on certain generally offensive words (sometimes inappropriately), and if you use them, the post will not appear.  Remove them, and it will.  But if a post that appears subsequently disappears, it's usually because the threshold of "reports" finding it offensive by other Time readers was exceeded and it was automatically removed.  For the most part, Time allows the forums such as these to be community policed.

Given the hyperbolic and fallacious arguments you present, it's likely that your "voice" was publicly offensive and you were reported to be in violation of Time's TOS for whatever reason, and subsequently silenced.  So overall, your rant against Time was misdirected.  It's much more likely that Time-reading public doesn't care for how you put things and killed off your posts that way.

If you need to vent your spleen, as I said, start your own magazine and see how that works for you.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@DJNITTI that is what all the moron liberals did for Obama, just because he was black and it was time for a black, no difference. he was not qualified and still isn't .

Openminded1
Openminded1

@DwightJones Wow now there is a family with many skels, you kidding.

ColleenB
ColleenB

@DavidStrayer Wow. Brainwashed much? BENGHAZI if not her downfall, it should be what puts her in prison. She is just as corrupt as the next corrupt official in Washington. She cares about herself and her own agendas only, just like Obama. She would be no different than he. 

Openminded1
Openminded1

@DavidStrayer On drugs again mr. kotter, like  obama the president of black america only. he forgot the whites after he got the 2nd round of votes he needed.

DavidStrayer
DavidStrayer

@ColleenB @DavidStrayer 

What planet do you come from?

Benghazi is an irrelevance that right wing zealots have tried to dredge up and pretend that it's meaningful.

If you want to look at corruption, your friendly Republican party, with its hands so bloody in Iraq, is where you should look.  The Bush administration lied -- got that? lied -- and fabricated evidence to lead us into a criminal war in Iraq.  As a result, 4500 Americans were killed, tens of thousands maimed and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed and maimed.  The entire Middle East was destabilized, with Saddam's removal empowering Iran and creating the current mess with Iranian nuclear capabilities and intentions.

Then, of course, there's the deregulation and relaxation of oversight relating to the securities and finance industries that led to the Great Recession.

So don't carry on about Benghazi.  It's both hypocritical and distorted.  The GOP has so much blood on its hands that it can't do anything but to try to point their collective bloody fingers elsewhere to distract everyone from their own murderous crimes.

jfk
jfk

@DavidStrayer @ColleenB   I didn't realize Bush was running again.  And Benghazi is pretty relevant to the Stevens family.