Twelve women with diverse backgrounds and disciplines have been promoted to the role of Supreme Leader of the Biden Cabinet. Eight are women of color. As presidential advisers, they will be the first women to hold important positions, including all non-traditional women’s sectors such as finance, defense and veterans. Biden also hired the first all-female White House communications team. The appointment of the first women to these power and influence positions will disrupt traditional expectations of women’s role in government, but for women to succeed, they help women be seen and heard. We need the people, the media, and you. why?
Some may say that the women nominated or appointed by the Cabinet have already pierced the glass ceiling. Women participate in discussions that shape the future of issues such as health care, national security, justice, economy, global warming, housing, racial equality, immigration, childcare and public education. That is why the public needs to listen to their thoughts and think about what they advise. Given the imbalances caused by Covid and the inequality, racism, and polarization that threaten democracy, these will be complex debates at difficult times for the country. As a result, these women also face “Glass cliff” when all variables indicate a high risk of female leader failure.
The Biden administration is committed to greater transparency. Journalists have multiple opportunities to assess the performance of diverse ministers, from appearances at press conferences and hearings televised. But will the women themselves receive a fair hearing? It’s a shame to find that despite the growing attention of women in American politics, little has changed in how the public’s exposure to diverse female voices is shaped. For example, the majority of journalists who reported on the 2020 presidential election were unconscious and even gender-biased white men.
A double standard remains as to what women and men should look and hear as public figures. When a female speaker stands up or pursues bold thoughts, she often describes her as grumpy, high-pitched, or sharpened. In contrast, a man in a position is usually considered a leader with all the rights to claim his position, no matter how bold he is.
Audiences, including women, also tend to be more critical of how women speak. This is especially true when women present ideas that threaten the status quo or express concerns about controversial policies and practices. Biden’s female appointees are expected to do both, and we deserve the press, which primarily explains their thoughts and does not explain much about their way of speaking, marriage history, and appearance.
Studies show that women who claim themselves in public presentations are considered tough minds, direct and logical, while at the same time being a subtle line between what appears to be friendly and “favorable.” You need to navigate. The contrast with men is clear. We do not expect men in leadership positions to smile. We expect them to act with authority. Men usually do not need to gain the trust of the voice of authority when they speak. They then start.
In the 2020 presidential election, the media consistently described female candidates more negatively than male candidates. For example, Senator Amy Klobuchar’s presidential candidate was never highlighted by the media. This was a late surprise to her performance at the New Hampshire debate, pushing her performance to “chromentum.” Commentator Frank Bruni was disappointed by Kamala Harris’s “flat and sneaky reading of her biography and philosophy” at the time. ”
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was called “moral rebuke” in the 2020 presidential election, but she was virtually removed from the news coverage after the Iowa caucuses. Her opinion drowned too often when a woman like Senator Warren, a bankruptcy expert historically dominated by men, was asked to appear on the panel with all men. Or “mansplaining”.
It takes courage for women to agree to lead a public life. All of President Biden’s new cabinet appointments deserve respect for their willingness to be vulnerable to public surveillance. Fair journalism coverage will be key to their success. To ensure that, we also need to see more women of diverse backgrounds, races and cultures covering the diverse female leaders who will make headlines.
All of us have a role to play in ensuring that today’s female political leaders are respected for their representation, speech and action. This principle applies widely, not just at the national level. For example, if the panel has more women than men, participants can use the Q & A period to give women ample opportunity to elaborate on their ideas. Anyone planning a hearing or meeting should always be asked to include women and ask, “Where are the women?” When not. Showing direct appreciation to a woman for her impressive presentation and her achievements enhances her leadership position.
When it deserves, we thank the organizers, producers and editors for their comprehensiveness and unbiasedness. If we all do not serve as supporters of equity and equality, harmful stereotypes will continue to infect the press and undermine the success of many diverse women currently in the top tier of government. If you find a female leader being ignored or fired by sexist coverage, call for it and take action. Let your voice demand that they be heard today, more than ever.
About the author:
Dr. Lois Phillips is the founder of the University of Antioch, Santa Barbara, and a female faculty representative of the Leadership Program at the University of Antioch.Her essay is published in Santa Barbara News Press and Pacific Business Times..She regularly provides commentary on gender issues when speaking in public. www.loisphillips.com/blog With co-author Anita Perez Ferguson on the Women Seen and Heard podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC12TwoHFfLuJfucuUSMcmYw
Dr. Anita Perez Ferguson is a visiting scholar of the Council of Independent Colleges, an advisor to the Inter-American Foundation, and a consultant for diversity programs and board development. As the former president of the National Women’s Political Caucus, she speaks frequently at state and national conferences. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anita-perez-ferguson-phd-68897a8