Reading Marianne Schnall’s What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?, over the past month has been difficult. The book, a series of interviews with civic and business leaders exploring the role of gender in politics and leadership, decries a lack of progress, but is inherently optimistic.
Published in 2013, almost everyone interviewed in the book is certain that a woman president is imminent, and many call out an eventual presidential run by Hillary Clinton in 2016 as the expected breaking of this highest glass ceiling. If you had asked me the same question four years ago (or even four months ago), I would have answered similarly: not only was it time for America to elect a woman president, but that president should be Hillary Clinton.
We all know how that turned out, and most of us are still reeling. When I see the abhorrent actions of the current POTUS, I think of this passage in What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?, articulately astutely by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi:
I can guarantee you: if you lower money and increase civility, you will have many more women. And that's what we have to do: create our own environment. We've been operating in an environment that has not been friendly to the advancement of women, especially now that it's become so harsh and so money driven.
The 2016 election was the opposite of civil. It was marked by an ugliness of discourse that I had never witnessed in my life, and was defined by overt misogyny and bigotry. The current administration—especially with the example of Betsy DeVos’ nomination to Secretary of Education—is driven by money. Power is given to those who give to the powerful, not to those who want to help the less fortunate.
The current climate is money-driven and uncivil; as such, we still don’t have a woman president, despite having a candidate who was one of the most qualified people—woman or man—to ever run for the position. This makes me sad, frustrated, and angry.
I am thankful for the leaders I have had in my life—most of them strong, inspirational, incredible women—who have taught me, through their words and action, what it is to be civil, and what it is to have grace under fire. Any one of them would make an excellent president, and perhaps one day, one of them or someone inspired by them, will accede to that office.
We may not have gotten a woman president in 2016, as so many predicted in Marianne Schnall’s What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?, but if the women in my life are any indication, we’ll have a strong group of contenders in the near future.