July 15, 2008
Hillary Clinton’s Lessons for Working Women
“Iron my shirt.”
Yes, a man actually said that to Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop. It’s huge that she made it as far in the 2008 presidential campaign as she did, but as that barb and this MSNBC article point out (which contains photographic proof of the ironing remark), her historic campaign revealed that, as far as working women have come in the workplace, a lot more work needs to be done.
Says the article:
(Mary) Gatta (director of work force policy and research at Rutgers University’s Center for Women and Work) thinks one very positive thing to come from Clinton’s campaign is that working women saw that the kind of things they experience in the workplace -- whether it is overtly sexist jokes or more subtle barbs -- are also experienced even by a woman at the highest career levels.
“I think women related to Hillary on that, that in their own lives they’ve experienced different degrees of sexism,” she said.
As a working woman, I know I face different issues in the workplace than my husband, brother or father do. And while overt name-calling is usually not part of the workplace, sexism can be more covert. The article goes on to say:
Gatta thinks Clinton’s campaign highlighted the more subtle ways in which women are undermined in the workplace. For example, Clinton was often referred to by her first, rather than her last, name -- the same thing that often happened to Carly Fiorina during her tumultuous tenure as head of Hewlett-Packard. Gatta, who has the same experience herself sometimes, thinks that can be a way of taking a woman less seriously.
And then there are the stone-cold facts. Women still earn less than men. The MSNBC article refers to a report by women’s advocacy group the InterOrganization Network that shows 14.8 percent of board seats in Fortune 500 companies are held by women, while 11.8 percent of Fortune 500 companies have all-male boards. And then there’s the gender stereotyping -- that a woman needs to act (and dress) like a man to get ahead. Remember the bugaboo over Clinton’s cleavage? Do you think McCain or Obama wearing a certain suit or tie would have made such headlines?
Clinton’s strength as a working woman was shown in the graciousness of her defeat. She fought hard, but when winning became impossible, she joined with her former rival Obama in the name of party unity -- symbolically, in the town of Unity, New Hampshire. Such grace and class are a credit to her gender. If women could unite and fight for complete equality in the workplace, imagine what we could accomplish?
For more on what you can learn about your own job search from the 2008 presidential campaign, check out this article. And here are more resources about working women:
- From the Monster Blog: “Why Not More Women Leaders?”
- From the Monster Blog: “Equality for Women in the Workplace?”
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First, we in the west have an issue with sexuality. We are in terms of overall world opinions and views, very repressed. (The US much more so than Canada) So the hint of cleavage is of course as news-worthy as which celebrity's panty-lines one might see.
Women walk a very thin double-edge, trying to maintain their femininity while not wanting to be looked at or treated as objects. And then of course, there are some women who do use their bodies as tools to help them get ahead which sets the whole women's movement back as well.
However in all fairness if Obama wore a particular pair of pants that highlighted his endowment or appeared in a tank-top that would have CERTAINLY been given the same publicity and discussion as Hillary's top did.
Facts are always the same, vocal minority disapproves of X because of Y, everyone wonders if it's the popular opinion of the day, it's always found to not be so. News moves onto the next story.
Posted by: Mark | Jul 15, 2008 1:34:49 PM
Men (and women,too) will continue to say thoughtless and inappropriate things in public. When did that become newsworthy?
Posted by: Jackie Felman | Jul 30, 2008 7:07:41 PM
True, what you write. However, consider that the workplace employs many more men than women, many more whites than blacks, etc. Although I do not have the stats, it would be interesting to know the worplace market share women hold and then examine executive rolls porportionately. As with equal pay, I'm with you on that!
First names; listen closely to the campaign, Barack is used more times than one would expect, certainly as much as was Hillary. Can't remember the last time George as used referencing Bush, not that I'd want to though. Your first name point is for both Hillary and Barack. The only time we hear John is when it is follwed with McCain -John McCain. I like first name basis'; I use first names only to whom I trust. Maybe a good thing? Hey, this is 2008.
Not to deminish women's concerns, but many times it is better to appreciate how much women have lowered the bar in recent years rather than making higher than it is.
America has come along way for women and other minorities. The fact that both a women and a black were and are being considered is an achievement of milestone status.
It eight years we just might see "Chelsea" in the Oval Office. Certainly not out of the question. I for one am more interested in qualifications than gender or race. I know there are many who attach to causes rather than issues that affect the whole of the nation; so beit. The US has never offered such a perponderance of challenges since WWII to a President's agenda. Yet, Hillary was not only thought of as capable she almost prevailed. No disrespect to President Bill Clinton, if there's a next time let him watch. I'm a man and I think Bill's involvement had negative effects. Hillary should have gone it alone. (Chelsea was great, I thought).
As always America still leads the world. I can wholefully understand gender layolty, but in these time issues of the economy, terrorism and more are paramount. What bothers me most is that many women supported Hillary and because Barack won by the slimest of measures they profess to retaliate by supporting McCain. A true Dem would not abondon party loyalty just to get even. I can only surmize they were cross-overs for a women's cause. True Dems would never for any reason defect to consevative theology. I submit they should be careful for what they seek. Oh, how close y'all are!
Posted by: Arnold Sherr | Jul 31, 2008 3:27:26 AM
Perhaps Hilary was called by her first name, because another high-profile (former politician) shared her last name. That said, I almost never hear Barack Obama referred to by his first name alone.
It is more controversial to have a woman in the White House than a black man. Women still have battles to fight.
I work in a company with only 3 male staff members. When some extra work needs to be done - answering the phones while the receptionist is away, cleaning out a storage room - the men are never approached. It is always the woman, even women in seniority, who are expect to take on these duties - and the boss is a woman! On the rare occasion that the men do something outside of their job description, they get an extra showering of appreciation and some sort of compensation.
Posted by: Grace | Aug 5, 2008 6:09:10 PM
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