Don’t women already rule the world? My first guest blogger on Navy Reads… Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly puts Dee Dee Myers’s Why Women Should Rule the World in perspective. For more information on Theresa’s take on women and diversity in the Navy – and a full report on the recent Sea Services Leadership Association symposium – you may wish to visit GI Jess’s blog. No question about Navy's commitment
Guest Perspective on SSLA Symposium
by Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly
For a list of keynote speakers, please check out my more detailed blog post on another friend’s blog (GI Jess). For Bill’s Navy Reads, I wanted to concentrate on how Dee Dee Myers opened my mind to a “woman’s place” in this world.
Dee Dee Myers, who comes from a Navy family, spoke about being the first female White House Press Secretary in the first two years of President Clinton’s administration in 1992 and 1993.
All attendees got free copies of her book, “Why Women Should Rule the World” (for which she kindly stayed afterwards and signed) and in her book, as well as in her speech, she brought up many interesting observations about women in the workplace. For example, women tend to be more collaborative and consensus building than men. Also, companies who employ more women tend to offer more perspectives, fresh ideas and varied experiences. In her book, Myers cites several examples where women have enabled peace processes in war-torn countries and have been crucial to the rebuilding of nations, such as Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. She sites numerous examples of the positive impact women have made in business, politics and education.
But, even with those great examples, I still found some of the statistics about women in business disheartening, like that only 2.6 percent of heads of Fortune 500 companies are women, Or, that only 16 percent of seats in the House and Senate are filled by women.
Even in the Navy, with all the initiatives to facilitate more women in the Navy’s highest positions, the number of female CMCs was quite disappointing. According to Master Chief Jackie DiRosa, director, CMC Management Office “We have 57 female CMCs, out of approximately 760 CMCs total (AC/FTS numbers). We have nearly 160 female Master Chiefs of which 57 are CMCs. However, keep in mind that MCPOs are one percent of the total force...nearly 3000 strong. Yet out of nearly 3000 MCPOs, only 160 are female.”
These numbers alone demonstrate that women still have a long way to go in being equally represented in the workforce. Especially, when one considers that (as mentioned in Myers book), “women (in the U.S.) now earn 60 percent of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”
So my question is, if the U.S. has so many educated women, why are they not in the top political, medical, educational, military and other professional positions? The book (which I devoured on my plane ride back to Hawaii) cites many reasons including not enough women who ask for promotions and how many women feel forced to leave their jobs because of their difficulties balancing having a family with their work life.
Much progress has been made in terms of women, but many small subtleties still exist. I feel these can be setbacks to women’s advancement, such as the informal networks men have like a golf outing where talks of promotions can (and do) happen. Or, another example might be when a man re-words an idea that the lone women just said in a meeting. These are the type of barriers we discussed and ways women can overcome these obstacles.
Myers also spoke of her time as press secretary as a great experience, but said she still lacked the authority to really have the kind of power she needed to perform certain functions, and that many times she was left out of some very important decisions she needed to convey to the press. She had many reservations about taking the job because President Clinton assigned George Stephanopoulos as director of communications, making Myers a back-up briefer. This was the first time in history the job was split up in this fashion, and it led to a lot of overlap between job duties.
Stephanopoulous, now chief Washington correspondent and anchor of ABC News’s This Week, writes, “Smart, funny, and tough — Dee Dee Myers may not have ruled the world, but she held her own at the highest levels of the White House. Here she shows how she did it, what she learned, and what all women should know about how to succeed and lead in a world where the deck is all too often stacked against them.”
Mary Matalin, former counselor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, writes, “Women around the world are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without permission. Though provocatively titled, Why Women Should Rule the World is no polemic, but a deeply researched, evocative rendering of this transformation in progress. Dee Dee’s own personal and professional history is a frontline testimonial to women creating their own reality and in so doing changing the world’s.”
In Lipstick, Clarke writes about her experience as press secretary to Senator John McCain, serving on the staffs of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and working in the Pentagon as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs during President George W. Bush’s first term in office, for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Clarke offers a clear-eyed treatise on the need for honesty and transparency in government. -- Bill Doughty