Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Changing Attitudes about Female Leadership

by Andrea Traietti on January 30, 2020


by Julia McCoy ’22

Opinion Staff


Why is this country afraid of female leadership, especially considering our population is rather evenly split?

Even with the record numbers of women in Congress, the House of Representatives is still only 23.2 percent female and the Senate is 25 percent female. While numbers are increasing in the legislative branch, the country as a whole has yet to embrace the possibility of a female in the White House. 

Women, especially those who have recently been Democratic presidential candidates, are successful in politics and deserve to be recognized as such. 

In recent years, women have certainly made headway on the national stage. Hillary Clinton became the first female to receive the Democratic National Committee’s nomination in 2016, and Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar have been holding their own against some of the party’s toughest competition in the 2020 presidential election. 

A woman can absolutely run this country. In fact, maybe it would provide the change of pace we so desperately need in a horribly polarized society.

Naturally, every politician is privy to different policy and ideology. However, in our country’s two-hundred-and forty-four-year tenure, it is hard to believe that the American people have never voted for a woman solely based on her policy. 

Instead, it might be important to consider the main voting demographic and how they influence the political world. The age demographic of sixty-five and older consistently votes more than any others; 65 percent of women that age and 68 percent of men voted in 2018. Coming from a more conservative time, when women were thought to be domestic creatures by nature, these folks are more likely to be inclined to believe that women are too compassionate and not strong enough for the Oval Office.

As the younger generations age, having grown up with more female empowerment in their lives, there has certainly been an upward trend that favors female leadership at all levels.

Rather than growing up with the idea that a woman’s empathy is inherently a weakness, younger generations have been taught that we can grow beyond that “weakness” into powerful women who are just as strong as men. 

Additionally, women see themselves now as intelligent, capable beings because they are female, not in spite of it—and that might be the mindset change necessary to push the country into the future. 

Female leadership is present on campus as well. At the beginning of this year, Friars Club, Board of Programmers, Campus Ministry, Board of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Student Congress, among many other student organizations, were all headed by female leadership for the first time. If our recent history is any indication of the future of our country, it is looking bright. 

So, how is this change treating us?

“Women are inherently relationship based,” said Bailey Zimmitti ’20, “so the clubs this year have definitely cultivated great relationships that we haven’t had in the past.”

As the president of Campus Ministry’s executive board, Zimmitti has certainly embraced the leadership role well. In fact, she encourages all women to embrace their gifts of compassion and emotional expression as it sets them apart from everyone else in the room. 

“Sometimes,” Zimmitti said, “women perceive their gifts [of compassion] as limitations. Instead, we should use our inherently compassionate nature as an advantage, a different vantage point than anything a man would have.”

In fact, this could be the main issue that is blocking the country from fully embracing the idea of a female Commander in Chief. Most women who run for office are worried about competing with their male counterparts. They often express their femininity in the most minute ways, as a way to recognize it but not fully embrace it. 

If the objective of a presidential race is to beat out the other candidates, why not embrace the thing that

As younger generations have changed the perception of women in leadership positions, the possibility of a female president has grown increasingly realistic. Photo courtesy of Obama White House.

sets you apart from them the most? Senators Klobuchar and Warren have a perspective on the world that is solely their own, something that the men on debate stages simply do not understand.

While, of course, they can still embrace the boldness that is often not considered a natural quality of women, it seems that this country could certainly use the compassion with which women are equipped. It could bring back those who have sworn off politics altogether. 

Regardless of the outcome, it is safe to say that the United States is straying from the tendency to have a “token female” and is looking to break the glass ceiling with some serious competition from women. The support is building behind them and the younger generation will be the cause of this monumental shift.