Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was among the many contributors on the television news circuit this morning, weighing in on the lessons learned from the surprising outcome of the U.S. Presidential Election that made Donald Trump President-elect. As she discussed everything from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s concession speech to the sad state of how divided the United States has become, she also weighed in on the impact this election had on women. She agrees with Clinton that, “Someday someone will break that glass ceiling.”
“I do think it will happen and we have to support each to make it happen because it’s not easy,” Albright said in the interview. “I think many of the ways she was characterized were unfortunate both in the media and by Trump’s campaign supporters.”
Obviously the woman who called Trump a “useful idiot” over his concerning relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t a fan of the Republican candidate, but she added that the hostile rhetoric against Clinton – like calling her a criminal who belongs in jail – misrepresented her to the public.
“We’ve always known, women in journalism, politics, or public service, that it is never for easy women,” Albright said. “She was the best candidate to have to represent us, hardworking and committed. I’m proud of what she did as a candidate.”
Regardless of your views on her politics or ability to lead, the fact that she, as a woman, got as close as she did to clinching the U.S. presidency does send a message to women of all ages that her dream of becoming the first woman president is not impossible.
However, there are some footnotes at the bottom of that “Your-Dream-Can-Come-True” memo, that remind women there are still obstacles they will continue to face. Reaction on social media describes a few of them.
The View’s Joy Behar said, “Trump’s win proves ‘men can get away with anything and women can get away with nothing.'” Of course, she’s referring to the fact many Trump supporters overlooked the disparaging remarks he made against women, minorities, Latinos, etc., but gladly joined in the personal attacks on Clinton and her supporters.
Variety magazine retweeted a comment from a man in Germany, “This election is a real shot at women. You can be more qualified, better educated, have a more impressive resume and still not get the job.”
Other journalists suggest the outcome of the election is less about her being a woman and more about her not being the “right” woman candidate for the election. Conservative women don’t warm up to her, buying into longtime claims that she is “crooked,” neither do many Millennials, whose pushed back on the idea that they should support Clinton based on her gender. That’s not necessarily a surprise considering Clinton’s “un-likability” factor and the legitimate questions surrounding controversial issues like Benghazi and her emails, but there may be other factors at work here.
A recent study between researchers at Vanderbilt University and Northwestern found, in general, people perceive women to be more ethical than men and as a result are held to a higher standard.
In one experiment, they told a group of students about a hospital administrator who deliberately filed a false Medicare claim. Some were told the administrator responsible had a man’s name, others were given the exact same scenario, but were told the unethical administrator had a woman’s name. When asked to recommend a jail sentence for the fraud, the average recommended sentence was around 80 days for ‘Jack’ and around 130 days for ‘Jane,’ a difference of nearly two months.
They also found similar discrepancies when analyzing the real-life data. They analyzed 500 cases in 33 states where a lawyer was pulled up before the Bar Association, studying the punishments handed down to lawyers who had committed identical infractions. They found women had a 35 percent chance of being disbarred in any given case, while men had a 17 percent chance, suggesting that females had a 106 percent higher likelihood of being disbarred than males.
Being held to a higher standard can be a good thing when you’re perceived as honest, but it can also be a difficult burden to bear when you’re not, as Clinton discovered. Despite the loss, she recognizes what she represents to girls and young women.
“To all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams,” Clinton said in her concession speech.
Ultimately the message is clear for women: Pursue for your dream, but don’t expect to get it without a fight. And fight for what you believe is right, even if that means someone else will have to break the glass ceiling. It’s what Susan B. Anthony did a hundred years ago.
The women’s rights activist died before she got the right to vote, but 110 years after her death, people lined up for hours on election to place “I Voted” stickers on the headstone of her grave at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY.
Clinton may not have been the right person for the job, but at least she got a chance to pursue it.
“We need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives,” said Clinton. “And to all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.”