Women as LeadersÖ


Marlene Smith

February, 2005


Past Columns

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005


Given that the month of February honors Presidentís Day, I started thinking about the balance of power in the country. Specifically, how women contribute overall to leadership and direction, and how far weíve come to get to where we are today.

I took at look at female leaders and women in other positions of political authority of independent states and self-governing understate entities since the year 2000. There are 76 women on this list! These women range from the President of Finland to the Vice President of Taiwan to the Chief of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Amerindian Tribal Nations to the Executive President of the Philippines and are all elected officials. Some of the women on this list are also considered leaders in their countries, although they achieved their titles through royal blood lines and marriage, but this certainly does not detract from their position of authority and their ability to influence elected officials and government.

Anyway, I thought about the women in positions of power and authority in the United States. Itís funny how we just canít seem to elect a woman as President or even Vice-President. No woman had been nominated for either office by a major party until July 12, 1984 when Democratic Presidential nominee Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. I am not sure why one of the most powerful nations on this Earth, with the sheer number of women voters, do not push for installing a woman in one of these positions. Yes, we have congressional representation from women as there are currently 68 women in the House, 14 women in the Senate, but this only makes up a small percentage of the overall elected officials.

Women are 51% of the adult population. But women in government from the previous election are only:

14.3% of the Cabinet...
14% of the US Senate...
14.6% of the US House...(this is now 15.6% in 2005)
22% of the US Supreme Court...
20.6% of Federal Judges...
18% of state Governors...
20.8% of state Senators
23% of state Representatives...
9% of state Judges...
20.8% of big city mayors...

I think itís time we look at our leaders for what they are Ė leaders. Our selections for our representation should not be based on anything but a personís qualifications. Women, as 51% of the overall adult population, are responsible for how our government looks today. Unless we take action as a group, our government and itís laws will continue to move in the current direction. Todayís government and itsí policies might work well for you, but letís provide a balance to the decision-making process. Our government should embody the nation in which it governs Ė not only based on gender, but on all the other pieces of the puzzle that makes us so uniquely different from one another. When there is an opportunity Ė whether it be a local movement or a national election Ė do not hesitate to make your voice heard. Your one vote, opinion, message, can change the world!

"Women are being considered as candidates for Vice President of the United States because it is the worst job in America. It's amazing that men will take it. A job with real power is First Lady. I'd be willing to run for that. As far as the men who are running for President are concerned, they aren't even people I would date."
Nora Ephron, from her San Francisco lecture, November 4, 1983


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