Throughout the 240-year history of the United States, there has never been a woman president. During the first145 years, women weren’t even able to vote. A few states had given women the right to vote before the federal government and the states ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920. Getting women into public office took even longer, and today, women are still not equally represented in politics. Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader and 30-year member of Congress, stated that the number of women in the Senate has increased over his tenure. For example, he pointed out that, in his experience, women do not rush into war the way women do. This is one very good reason to have a woman in the White House. Another reason is that women have already shown themselves to be capable leaders, including Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain, Golda Meier of Israel, Indira Gandhi of India, and Angela Merkel of Germany. Other answers to the question “Why a woman president?” include the facts that women are better communicators, women are more likely to compromise and build a consensus, and women are more adept at multi-taking.
As a group, women are better communicators than men. Extensive research has shown that girls have better verbal skills than boys from a very early age (Ericksson et al. 326). Better communication leads to fewer misunderstandings, which is especially important in presidential interactions with world leaders. It is also a useful skill for building a consensus and encouraging compromise with Congress and other politicians. The president must be able to share her policies with the public both clearly and concisely. Communication is particularly crucial today when every word the president speaks is filmed, then dissected by dozens of commentators on cable news shows. If words are not carefully chosen, disastrous, unintended consequences may result. The president must also be able to mediate conflict between members of Congress, directors of executive agencies, and even world leaders (Mendelberg et al. 294). Many women have an advantage in this, because if they are mothers, they have acted as referees for conflicts between children and have learned to defuse volatile situations.
Conventional wisdom states that women are more likely to compromise and build consensus than men. There is evidence to support this; for example, Congresswomen were significantly less partisan than Congressmen based on data from 1967-2012 (Thomas and Wilcox 128). Also, Congresswomen were more likely to think inclusively and focus on diversity when compared to Congressmen. Similarly, evidence suggests that women are more flexible than men — they are more likely to accept change when it is needed to reach a goal, while men refuse to alter their behavior even when it is clearly nonproductive (Gooley 2012). This is the main reason for the common statement that men won’t ask for directions. Men are more attached to a system, and when data contradicts that system, they tend to be slower in adaptation. A president must be practical, goal-focused, adaptable, and willing to compromise in order to best serve the country, and women have these qualities. As a corollary, women are less likely to rush into violence (i.e. war) to solve problems.
The president must be able to handle a myriad of situations and problems at once, and women are more skilled at this type of multi-tasking. Although men have begun to take on more household tasks than a generation ago, much of the upkeep for the home is still left to women. If a woman is also raising children, working outside the home, perhaps volunteering at church or for charities, she must have a strong sense of organization, and the ability to switch roles in an instant. The president also has to serve in many roles — commander-in-chief, head of the executive branch and its agencies, prime negotiator with Congress, and leader of the free world, among others (Thomas and Wilcox 283). Women have both the skills and the experience for these multiple roles.
Many people have asked the question, “Why have a woman as President?” I have outlined three reasons for choosing a woman: better communication skills, more willingness to compromise, and higher multi-tasking skills. I would also submit that the real question is, “Why not have a woman as President?” I am looking forward to the day when our first woman president is sworn into office.
- Eriksson, Mårten, et al. “Differences between girls and boys in emerging language skills: evidence from 10 language communities.” British journal of developmental psychology 30.2 (2012): 326-343.
- Gooley, Tristan. The Natural Navigator: A Watchful Explorer’s Guide to a Nearly Forgotten Skill. Workman Publishing, 2012.
- Mendelberg, Tali, Christopher F. Karpowitz, and Nicholas Goedert. “Does Descriptive Representation Facilitate Women’s Distinctive Voice? How Gender Composition and Decision Rules Affect Deliberation.” American Journal of Political Science 58.2 (2014): 291-306.
- Thomas, Sue, and Clyde Wilcox, eds. Women and elective office: Past, present, and future. Oxford University Press, 2014.