Pat Connects

Pat Mitchell, President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media

March 22, 2012

Where are the leaders for women, not just women leaders?

by Pat Mitchell

As we’re contemplating the state of girls and women, one of the easiest indicators is to look at the representation of women in political office. But as I’ve traveled around this month, speaking and listening, one of my most deeply felt questions continues to be this: Where are those leaders who lead for women?

This question was brought to life for me as I interviewed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on stage at the much-publicized Women in the World conference. Nancy, after all, is a woman who not only possesses the double X chromosomal combination too rare in the halls of power in Washington these days, but leads with a fierce commitment to women’s rights to boot.

You see, it’s not enough to be a woman leader in my opinion; one must also lead for women. What do I mean? That women have to vote for and advocate for only women's issues? Of course not. But when women's rights are at stake and when women's stories need to be heard, shouldn't we expect women with  power to use it to lead efforts to protect rights and to fight for gender justice and equity across all sectors?

I don’t need to belabor the point, but gender parity in the U.S. government is pathetic: In the current Congress, only 16% of seats are held by women. The U.S. ranks #69 among countries with the highest percentage of women in government. Countries that have a higher percentage of women include countries such as Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uganda.

But these statistics mask an even more complex reality about the state of women. It’s not just about who is in office—although the sheer power of representation is nice, as argued in Miss Representation. It’s also about what people do once they’re in office, or in the case of corporate leadership, whom they fight for and how they fight for them in the boardroom.

As the decades of my own advocacy on behalf of women pile up, I’m ever more convinced that women lead differently if given the chance to express our genuine styles, passions, and priorities. Whether it’s the head of a multi-national bank, weighing what kinds of financial products to offer, at what price points, with what kind of marketing materials, or the Speaker of the House keeping order in one of the least civil places left in America, women are inclined to do it differently.

And we must. After all, you don’t get to be part of the club by chromosome alone. You belong based on your actions on behalf of real women’s lives.

  • Men in both parties may talk the talk but they don't walk the walk.  There's still a culture of double standards in the US and it needs to be overcome by education and raising of consciousness of both sexes in this country.   

     

     


    Mona, March 22, 2012 at 11:33 am

About

Pat Connects

Pat Mitchell, President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media

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Since assuming her current role as president and chief executive officer of The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio) in March 2006, Pat Mitchell has guided the thirty-four-year old institution through an exciting rebranding effort and strengthened its public and industry programs by analyzing and interpreting the immense changes in the media landscape. Under her leadership, the Paley Center has become a major convener for media leaders and enthusiasts, continuing to offer its unrivaled collection of radio, television, and advertising content as a lens for exploring the powerful impact of media on our lives, culture, and society. Pat Mitchell was named to Newsweek's 2011 list of 150 Women Who Shake the World.

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