Seeking Dignity in Power
We must stand together, support each other and empower each other if the stereotypes of women in leadership are ever going to change. We must remember the women who have paved the way for us, as well as the ones currently fighting for justice.
As of late, there have been many women in the international spotlight calling for peace in their own countries. Aung San Suu Kyi, prisoner of conscience and political activist in Myanmar; Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and environmental activist; and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners and social justice advocates, are all defying the negative stereotypes women have recently acquired in the United States following Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.
Clinton received such labels as a “ball-buster” and “bitch” because of her portrayal as “one of the men” in a male-dominated arena. Clinton is certainly an empowering woman and one to look up to, however, the idea that in order for a woman to be taken seriously means she must put away her feminine qualities is not a realistic one at that. Palin, on the other hand, personified the overtly feminine leader, and was thus de-humanized and sexualized by the media.
So how can a woman in leadership be taken seriously without having to put away her ruffled blouse for a man-tailored suit?
This is the reality women face when they are promoted in a job, seek a leadership role in their career or want to speak out on behalf of a cause. In large, the image aspect of such a feat is a characteristic hurdle of women in American society, but none-the-less, women everywhere face the challenge of being taken seriously in a predominantly male-run world. Not only must women collectively chose role models such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Maathai, and the three Nobel Peace Prize winners, but we must actively support women seeking to break the glass ceiling if any social change is to happen.