I never bought into the notion that somehow women were treated differently than men in the political arena, or, for that matter, that somehow leadership styles are different between the two.
As a lobbyist for more than 20 years, I was always treated with respect by both my colleagues and elected officials. I frankly didn’t see a need for women-centered organizations, such as “Leap into Leadership,” which promotes women to become active on boards, commissions and elected offices.
And then I ran for mayor, and quickly my eyes were opened. Sexism is alive and well.
Women in office are treated differently then their male counterparts, and I could write pages of examples. There is a difference in communication, leadership and even problem-solving skills between the sexes, but that is not to say that one is more favorable than the other.
But they are different, and we need to work to bring more of those different traits together to not only problem solve current issues, but also be forward-thinking to create the future we would want for our next generations. So what does this look like, and how can we get there?
Ideally, what this looks like is more representational of one’s community. In my office, I see applications on a monthly basis from individuals wanting to serve on a board or commission, and I’m happy to report that the ratio of men to women is fairly balanced. That’s a great start. Now if we could only get more women to run for an elected office.
Although I was admittedly late to this conversation, as women, we need to encourage each other to run for office. This is a conversation I enjoy having with our schoolchildren in their classrooms and in my office. I want to believe that the more women in leadership roles our young children see, going into the future, the current gender gap that exists becomes a thing of the past.