Looking back to when you were a child, you were asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Most kids, both boys and girls, answered by saying they want to become the president. However, now in the present time, what happened to all those little girls who wanted to be president, where are they now?
Many of us women have once dreamed to be the president and lead the country with our alpha-female personalities. But how many of us really reached that goal? Often times, when you think about politics, you think about powerful men leading the country. Women are very rarely to be seen in the political arena.
In the United States congress, women occupy only 18.3 percent of the 535 seats in congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. In Canada, 25 percent of seats are occupied by women in parliament. The amount of women in the political profession, or in that case, any profession, should be leveled with the amount of men that occupy many aggressive career fields. Unfortunately, in this case, more than half of the political field is ruled by men.
According to Caroline Heldman, assistant professor of law at Occidental college in Los Angeles, the reason why there aren’t many women who get involved in politics is because of their family obligations. “When women run with children, they are more likely to be criticized because it breaks away from their idea of women and their private sphere roles and men and their public sphere roles,” said Heldman in an interview at the Massachusetts School of Law.
Heldman also points out that the lack of confidence plays a crucial role for women in politics. “Women, especially in male –dominated positions, tend to discount their skills; and we found that experiment after experiment, men actually overrate their skills in these areas.”
So, how can an alpha female like you land a spot in politics or an aggressive, male-dominated career? Your inspiration can perhaps derive from Elizabeth Holtzman, the youngest woman to have been elected in the United States Congress and the first woman to hold office as the New York City Comptroller. She also won national attention for her role on the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate and was subsequently elected district attorney of Kings County (Brooklyn). If you think that’s all, then you’re wrong! She is also a Harvard Law School graduate and a practicing lawyer. Now you’re probably wondering, how she can compete with many other aggressive leaders and reach to the top?
At a conference in Centenary College about women in politics, Holtzman gave the audience some tips and suggestions to women interested in leadership. Here are some things you can do or improve on to be a leader like Holtzman.
- Be confident- Confidence is a key quality in being a leader in any career field, let alone politics.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up- Holtzman pointed out that the very few women who were involved in politics, were almost always afraid to speak up to someone of a higher position of the opposite sex. Speaking up in any professional sector is crucial, in that you stand out from the crowd.
- Be aggressive- Women are often looked upon as soft and feminine. However, in politics there is no space for softness. Being aggressive, in terms of campaigning and speaking up, is crucial in politics.
- Get used to the critics- When you’re involved with a company or an industry in which you hold a leadership position, be prepared to hear the criticism. “There will always be people who try to bring you down, discourage you and tell you that this is no place for a woman. You have to prove them wrong and use the critics as your motivation; that’s what I do,” said Holtzman.
Following these important tips, could get you far in politics and any male-dominated career. So ladies, be confident, aggressive and have no fear! It’s time us ladies start leading the country with our alpha-female personalities.