Favorite

Women as captains 

Sometimes progress is measured by half-court movements. When I was in school, girls played half-court basketball. Girls were regarded as too fragile to run the distance.

It's good to measure positive change, like women's full-court professional basketball. But I'm done with simply celebrating where we've been.

Old stereotypes still stand in our way. Only two-thirds of adults in this country think a woman could be president, according to a CNN/Opinion Research survey. Meanwhile, state legislatures — the farm teams for future leaders — have only one-quarter representation by women. The U.S. ranks 69th in the world for women's legislative representation with only 16 percent women in Congress.

It doesn't have to be this way. The leaders of some countries have realized that it really does matter who makes decisions and that having more women at the top is good business and smart politics. For example, in Norway, women make up 36 percent of the members on corporate boards, while in the U.S. progress seems stalled at not quite 15 percent. How did Norway do it? In 2003, Norway passed a tough law that requires all public companies to ensure that their boards are 40 percent women. By 2007, 85 percent of their public companies met the mark.

Smart leaders in Norway and other countries realize that the talent base of the future is at least half women. But the World Economic Forum, which ranks women's advancement by country, says the U.S. has now fallen to 31st.

What an irony, then, that in the U.S., the talent pipeline is filled with women. By 2010, women are expected to hold 60 percent of the nation's wealth. Since 1996, a higher proportion of women than men have graduated from college, and the trend-line is only expected to accelerate. But we'll continue to waste a lot of that talent unless we transform our outmoded model of “only men need apply” leadership.

One way to tap our wellspring of female talent is to have a critical mass of women in decision-making positions. They bring new ideas and networks to reach the new talent; that offers the promise of no more excuses about a lack of “qualified women.”

More women at the table and in the corner offices helps to shape the future; a modernized policy agenda emerges to address lagging issues like the wage gap and support for working families.

How do we move into a better future? Decision-makers must ensure that there are women in every pool of candidates for every position from supervisor to CEO. Political parties and public officials must develop goals and timetables to get more women into political office; 101 other countries in the world already do it. Women who have made it need to unapologetically wedge the door open for other qualified women, particularly younger ones.

This March, Women's History Month, it is not enough to look backwards. The mindset that “American women are doing fine, thank you” clouds the reality that we need more women at the top.

Playing by different rules that undervalue women's contributions has no place in basketball, business or politics.

Max Brantley is on vacation. Linda Tarr-Whelan is a senior fellow at Demos, a think tank, and a former ambassador to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

Copyright (C) 2008 by the American Forum

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Guest

  • Climate action good for Arkansas

    Thirty-five Senate Republicans and three Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, support Senate Resolution 26 to block the federal Environmental Protection Agency from reducing greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters like coal power plants.
    • Feb 11, 2010
  • No country for old country

    Jeff Bridges plays it broke-down in ‘Crazy Heart.’
    • Feb 4, 2010
  • Needed: Strong Estate Tax

    On New Year’s Day the estate tax, an essential part of the U.S. tax system for nearly 100 years, disappeared because Congress failed to act in December. Congressional leaders now are pledging to act in early 2010 to reinstate the federal estate tax retroactive to Jan. 1. In the meantime, rhetoric over the estate tax will heat up.
    • Feb 4, 2010
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016

Most Shared

  • Raw feelings in the Arkansas Justice Building over workload, pay

    Strained relations between the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Arkansas Court of Appeals broke into public view this week. I expect more to come.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Vote no on school tax

    I have never voted against a school tax in my life, but I will be voting against the debt service millage extension for the Little Rock School District.
    • May 4, 2017
  • Intracity tourism

    The issues that tug at my heartstrings are neighborhood stigma and neighborhood segregation, which are so prevalent in Little Rock. In my opinion, the solution to those problems is "intracity tourism."
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »

May

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Not leaders

    As soon as I saw the Notre Dame graduates walking out of their own commencement ceremony as Vice President Mike Pence began to speak, I thought, "Oh no, here we go again."

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • Here's the conspiracy Gene Lyons knows is true: Trump conspired with the Russians - criminally…

    • on May 24, 2017
  • Re: Trump unfit

    • And now, although it is probably too late on this feed - the horrible bomber…

    • on May 24, 2017
  • Re: Trump unfit

    • Sorry, sorry - I mis-spoke or mis-wrote - the ACTUAL headline on the article was…

    • on May 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation