Last night, on the 11th floor of tony department store Lord & Taylor, a group of women in communications came together to discuss, what else, themselves!
Moderator Marie Wilson, Founder and President of The White House Project, led a discussion titled “Seen & Heard: The Impact of Women in the 2006 Elections,” with Myrna Blyth, former Editor-In-Chief of Ladies Home Journal, Gigi Georges, partner in The Glover Park Group, and Rita Nissan, whom I’m sure many of you are familiar with, from NY1’s Inside City Hall.
Wilson made sure to point out early in the introduction that the point of the discussion, and of her non-profit, that it is important “for women not to take the place of men – you have to say that – but to work alongside them.”
The discussion centered on the perception of women in government, through the lens of the media, and in key leadership positions. There was agreement between the panelists that when women’s representation is increased – in the workplace, in the public sphere, the media, etc. – the perception of us changes. Wilson pointed to an example. When there is one women running for office or holding a leadership position, she is stereotyped; when there are two women, they are compared; but when there are three women or more, the stereotypes, comparisons and negative perceptions begin to fade, and it is only then that their voices are truly heard. Further, that when one woman – Elizabeth Dole and Hillary Clinton were both referred to independently – gained the public spotlight, that both women and men project everything on that one woman who has made significant achievements and demand total perfection.
The conversation also veered into the lack of role models for women in leadership positions that enable women to recognize themselves as powerful or authoritative, while men (paraphrased) can look in the mirror and recognize authority.
The event also plugged a new website called SheSource.org, whose mission is to provide listings for female experts on a vast number of topics to the media, highlighting the achievements of these women but also increasing the voice of women in the news media.
It was said that the United States ranks 69th in the world for female representation in government.