Why We Need More Women Leaders

Sept. 30, 2020
As I watched the catastrophe* that was the Presidential Debate last night, I felt what many women I've learned from through the years have felt: ENOUGH with this rhetoric that women are too emotional to lead. 

As a journalist, I'm not supposed to have a political opinion when I write news. Despite what some Americans say about my chosen profession, I am not, nor do I participate in 'Fake News.' As a blogger, I get to have an opinion. I get to break out all of the 25-cent words I've picked up along my career and finally use them as I contemplate the good, the bad, and/or the ugly of the world. 

For those reading this that don't understand the difference between news and opinion, let me tell you what I learned in Day 1 of Journalism School: 

  • News has facts and is typically laden with nouns and verbs. 
  • Opinion has feelings, and as such, usually contains far more adverbs and adjectives within the prose. 

The parts of speech is a huge distinction and one I find myself explaining to naysayers over and over again. No matter how many times I explain a column vs news or article, there are always people who refuse to believe me, or better yet, try to tell me—the trained journalist with 20+ years in the business—the difference between news and opinion.

Mansplaining anyone? 

I bet if I asked 100 women reading this blog post, at least 75% of them would tell me they've been mansplained. You know mansplaining, right? For those who somehow have never heard of the term, it's when a man tries to explain to a woman something the woman has expertise in. Mansplaining is what happens to me a lot when I try to talk about news vs. opinion to a group of men 20 years my senior (i.e., see above). Mansplaining is also what happens when I talk about issues related to being a woman—be them personal or professional—and am then told something along the lines of "that can't be true" or "you must be imagining that" by men. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth to say the least.

For balance, there is such a thing called womansplaining, and it drives me as nuts as mansplaining does. Womansplaining is when women tend to infantilize men and speak to them in a manner that makes you wonder how the man or men ever became grown in the first place.  Show of hands if you've ever heard (or said) "I swear to gosh, Bill! You DO know that you have to use soap to wash your clothes/dishes/hands, right?" after which said womansplainer goes on to cackle that "those silly men can't do anything." Fellas, for what it's worth, I'm often the lone wolf who sticks up for you among the pack of she-wolves I've heard it from. 

Both of the 'splaining types have got to go. 

Why we need more women leaders

As I watched the catastrophe* that was the first Presidential Debate, I felt what many women through the years have felt: ENOUGH with this rhetoric that women are too emotional to lead.

The notion that women can't lead companies or countries because they'd become 'too emotional to function or do the job effectively' became absolutely moot during that debate. Frankly, it was already a moot point, but the debate shot it dead. We're talking point blank and at close range dead.

I've been in countless meetings where I've been talked over while explaining my case. As much as I'd love to say 'Will You Shut Up, Man?' to my interrupters, I keep talking in hopes that the person interrupting me gets the point and eventually quiets down. Sometimes I silence myself and let the interrupter talk while I and the rest of the group admonish him for who he really is: a bully.

Whether you liked her or not, how Hillary Clinton handled herself in the 2016 debates was far more refined than what happened during that debate. Gentlemen, imagine being called a name meant to diminish and demean you. I don't know what that word is for you, but imagine your wife, your sister, or your daughter being called something that isn't cute or isn't even nice. How would you react? How would you expect the woman or women in your life to react? 

Women, for as much as we hear how emotional, how soft, or how weak we are, are far better poised to lead. Of the nearly 60 women I've talked to and awarded honors to for the Influential Women in Manufacturing program, none of them ever said "I let my emotions dictate my business decisions." I've never seen or heard a female leader—or even a female employee—interact with another human the way these two grown men did last night. It was disappointing, but it served as a great reminder. 

What do you say we ditch the notion that women aren't suitable to lead and we grab on to the idea that gender is no longer a valid excuse for why you won't hire or promote more women into leadership positions into your organizations... or your countries. 

*our style guides at Food Processing prevent me from calling the debate what I really felt it was, which was far more colorful in language.