Have You Cracked a Glass Ceiling?

On Saturday, after a fun-filled mini-vacation at a friend's farm in Pennsylvania, I drove three hours with three...um...boisterous kids in back, dropped two off at soccer games in the sweltering D.C. heat, and then my nine-year-old daughter and I headed for Hillary Clinton's concession speech in downtown D.C.

Why did I need to be there?

Mommy Wars contributor Susan Cheever explained my reasons better than I could in her recent National Public Radio commentary, Why I Love Hillary:

"Women like me usually run for president of the PTA or president of some nice arts organization. We don't usually get to run for president of the United States. At last, here's a woman who wants to play with the big boys, and she's qualified, and she's giving them a run for her money. And I love her for that."

Meghan O'Rourke recently argued in Slate's Death of a Saleswoman that Clinton lost her way in her campaign because she was too masculine. "Her problem wasn't that she was a feminist. Her problem was that she wasn't feminist enough."

But listening to Hillary gamely, graciously close out her campaign, I had my doubts. My daughter, a passionate Hillary fan for two years, stood behind me on a stairway inside the crowded National Building Museum. We cheered our guts out as Hillary, Bill and Chelsea walked to the podium. My daughter put her arms around me and we had one of those priceless, timeless mother-daughter moments.

"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time," Clinton said without a trace of regret in her voice. "Thanks to you, it has about 18 million cracks in it and the light is shining through like never before."

In Sunday's A Thank-You for 18 Million Cracks in the Glass Ceiling, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank made the legitimate point:

"It will be up to the historians to ponder why Clinton waited until the very last day of her campaign to give full voice to the epochal nature of her candidacy. Through the Democratic primary race of 2008, she had played down the significance of being the first woman within reach of the presidency. It's tempting to wonder whether things would have turned out differently if she had embraced the theme earlier -- but there can be little doubt that her last speech of the campaign was also her best."

Each person who supported Hillary Clinton in her historic bid as our first serious female presidential contender weakened glass ceilings everywhere. Clinton's speech made me realize that the small cracks we make in our daily lives, juggling work and kids, matter. So I wonder: How many other cracks have we all made?

At Johnson & Johnson, I mentored two Latina women without college degrees who've both since advanced professionally; I imagine they will be J&J lifers and retire with many more stock options than me. I've written college and business school recommendations and advocated passionately for women at work who wanted part-time and flex-time schedules -- and gave many raises to women who deserved equal pay for equal work. I've encouraged men to take paternity leaves and consider stay-at-home fatherhood. Even writing over 500 entries on this blog in the past two years to me puts a few more spider cracks in the glass.

What about you? My guess is that simply by trying, in your own unique way, to juggle work and family, you've done it, too. You don't have to run for president to improve opportunities for women. What do you think?

Full disclosure: I contributed to both the Obama and Clinton campaigns.

Next week: Send me your Tips for Getting Kids, Spouses and Employees to Share Toys, Credit and Responsibilities so I can include them in next Monday's Top 10 Tips.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 11, 2008; 7:10 AM ET  | Category:  You Go Girl!
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Are you planning to get back to actually writing about balance sometime soon?

Posted by: ??? | June 11, 2008 7:15 AM


Posted by: Sleepy Time | June 11, 2008 7:46 AM

??? and SleepyTime -- Maybe you should sleep in a bit so you can grasp the significance! I think you both need more ZZZs...:)

Posted by: Leslie | June 11, 2008 8:15 AM

Working in a "woman's profession," I haven't run into many opportunities to even scratch a ceiling. (And I can think of better uses for diamonds.) However, my grandmother scrubbed floors all her life, and my grandfathers mined coal. I was the first college graduate on my father's side of the family. That was my ceiling.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 11, 2008 8:19 AM

I'm glad that hillary didn't run her campaign as "elect me because that will shattered the biggest glass ceiling." One should campaign based on the concent of their characer and their intellegence and life experience. More than half the people in US are women-- "elect me, I'm a woman" carries no resonance because I could turn that around to "so am I, maybe YOU should elect ME!"

anyway, she didn't lose because she is a woman or even because she failed to play up her feminitiy enough. I can give a long list of the many reasons she didn't win, but I think we are all pretty familiar with it at this point.

I'm so glad that she gave a good final speech. Makes up for the terrible one "non-concession" speech of early last week. She just continued the Clintonian tradition of twisting the truth in that one. I'm glad it'll be some other woman who will in the end break the biggest glass ceiling.

Posted by: capitol hill mom | June 11, 2008 8:37 AM

My mom was an Army wife with an accounting degree. She spent her married life making lateral career moves as we moved around. I have seen a nice steady upward progression in my career, been part of a successful start-up and done tons of things my mom says she could never dream of. That's my ceiling.

On the non-career side I am happy to be a part of sport that has seen a steady progression of women participants - road racing/running. I'll never win but I am out there doing - something I couldn't have imagined when my dad took up running when I was in kindergarden.

Posted by: Kate | June 11, 2008 8:39 AM

I'm glad that Ms. Clinton did NOT spend any time talking about how she's a woman. IT SHOULDN'T MATTER. That is about the extent of it.

I thought it was actually a good concession speech.

Having worked in a professions/industries that are mainly male, I guess just telling people I have degrees in Mathematics breaks some ceilings every day. But I don't know - is quitting one's job because the company wasn't comfortable with one working part time a good or a bad thing (they will probably have to hire me back at some point, on my terms, but that's another story).

Posted by: atlmom | June 11, 2008 8:41 AM

I wish I could have been there with my daughter too. I think this is an important step for women, and to the posters that think it doesn't have to do with balance...it does. Hillary and Nancy Pelosi have demonstrated that you can step back and still have a career later in life even if you take some time off for family or to support a spouse etc.

Posted by: ljg | June 11, 2008 8:48 AM

The only thing I could think of was that back some years when I was a manager, I got the largest bonus ever given to any manager at that firm. All the other managers were men. I don't think it counts, but it is something I'm proud of.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 11, 2008 8:56 AM

I'll second what Capitol Hill Mom and Atlmom said. Hillary Clinton's gender was the elephant in the room, and she did the right thing by not mentioning it. To mention it would have turned the entire campaign into defense against the most blatant of her sexist detractors.

Personally, I'm a secretary, so no, I haven't cracked any glass ceilings lately.

Posted by: BxNY | June 11, 2008 8:59 AM

@ BxNY - do you read Hax? Check out the archives from 2 days (?) ago. What you do keeps a place moving...

Posted by: Kate | June 11, 2008 9:12 AM

Actually, it makes me more sympathetic to Ms. Clinton that she didn't use gender as an issue - it would seem to me like something she would do (look at me!!! I'm the first woman who has a shot!!! vote for me!!! I'm a woman!!!).

It is to her real credit that she did not make this about gender (unlike Mr. Obama, who has made it about race - I'll bridge the gap - I know what it's like - etc).

Posted by: atlmom | June 11, 2008 9:39 AM

All of these supposed small steps or cracks strike me as significant. My mom, while she was supposedly a stay-at-home mother, helped convert a home for unwed mothers into a daycare center for low-income working mothers. Her concept being that if women had good, affordable daycare, they could keep their babies instead of giving them up for adoption. She made a huge crack in my view. The Rosemont Center in Adams Morgan is still going strong today...

Kate -- I'm with you on the running front. It always made me feel really strong and empowered. When I lived in NYC I ran races with a club there and I got an incredible thrill from running at the head of the pack and getting through the finish line in front of dozens of guys. It is part of why I believe open, co-ed competition is good for women (despite some of our cultural messages to the contrary).

Posted by: Leslie | June 11, 2008 9:43 AM

I agree that Clinton faced a tough call on how much to emphasize her gender and the glass ceilings she'd broken. But I think some people are oversimplifying the situation and dismissing the feminist angle here.

It probably would have been unwise to chant "vote for me because I'm female." But the reason I identified with her so strongly is she'd walked in my shoes -- as a girl growing up with a lot of sexism in our educational system and culture; as a woman succeeding in a male-dominated profession; as a working mother; and as a woman facing a lot of double standards and compromises in her marriage. She is also a lifelong advocate for women and children. I don't know many male presidential candidates who can say the same.

Posted by: Leslie | June 11, 2008 9:48 AM

"One should campaign based on the concent of their characer and their intellegence and life experience?"

Are you joking? What about people like, oh say the incumbent president or the Kennedys who run for office based on their wealth, connections and family name? Nice idea about a meritocracy when it comes to elected officials. But, it isn't reality.

I -for one- would have no problem with her pointing out the glass ceiling of politics (or any other profession). It exists. You can argue whether or not it exists like it did 30 years ago, but I can assure you that it does exist (at least in my experience and the experience of my female, working friends). And, I don't think it is wrong to point it out and celebrate the accomplishment. BUT, that cannot be the ONLY reason I would vote for someone (in fact, I did not vote for Hillary though I struggled with the decision). There has to be substance to the campaign.

And, to those who don't get what this topic has to do with balance, you should count yourself lucky to not understand. I have had to work twice as hard in my predominately male environment to earn the respect and position I have. It is what it is and I did what I had to do. But, it definitely required "balance" on my part.

Posted by: Js | June 11, 2008 9:49 AM

I don't think I've broken or cracked any ceilings - I'm an accountant, most of the people I work with are women, some of the people I work for are women. I guess I'm just grateful that it's not really "on me" to do that, because other people already have. I'm grateful that I have choices my mother didn't have and that my grandmothers couldn't have even dreamed of.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | June 11, 2008 9:54 AM

Js has nailed it.

Posted by: MN | June 11, 2008 10:00 AM

Just a note before heading off to Jury Duty. I'm a little concerned by the frequent tone I read (and it was in my post as well) in the posts of "it was just a little thing." When I was in the Navy, my boss, a woman Commander, commented that the Nurse Corps gave out fewer medals than any other Corps. The reason: The prevailing thought by both junior and senior staff that "we're only doing our jobs." In other words, we don't trumpet our triumphs as men do, because we don't think we deserve to be praised. We're only doing what we are expected to do. But what we're usually doing is working harder, keeping home and family together, and managing two full-time jobs. That doesn't even account for those women who work two jobs for pay, and still come home to more work. And in most cases, we're navigating work situations that require us to placate men, or play games to get our work done. I've told my own nurses that I never want to hear them say, "I'm just doing what I was hired to do," when they're being complimented on outstanding work. I think we women should stand up, take full credit for what we do, and do extraordinarily well, without feeling guilty for being recognized.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 11, 2008 10:05 AM

I can't say I've broken any glass ceilings but I work for women who are doing so. I'm proud of that and when I'm speechwriting, I get to put a little of my passion into their mouths. Plus my daughters know I care a lot about my work (at least I hope they can see past my frequent exhaustion to see that I love what I do!) I hope that inspires them to find work that they can believe in.

Posted by: anne | June 11, 2008 10:06 AM

I agree with babsy1. I remember my calculus teacher in high school repeatedly getting frustrated with me because I thought I couldn't do math - that the boys were right about theory and I was wrong. It never ocurred to me that it would be ok to be correct. It really wasn't until my freshman year at Bryn Mawr that I found it acceptable to be really good at math. My only ceiling crack was getting a graduate degree in economics. Both my sister and I are the first in our family to achieve graduate degrees while working full time (speaking of balance!), so I would have to respectfully disagree with tsp on her assessment of herself.

Posted by: canary28 | June 11, 2008 10:14 AM

Babysy1 - Good point. Well taken. The small stuff is actually pretty big stuff. Thanks.

I also see TSP2007's point. This is a feminist victory too -- to not feel the chip on your shoulder that you "have" to break the glass ceiling or "have it all" all at once. Women who take feminist advances for granted are extremely fortunate -- and I for one feel vindicated, because this kind of luxury is exactly what I worked hard for. Trust me, I dream of a world where my two daughters can take a female-dominated or female-equal workplace for granted as their birthright.

Posted by: Leslie | June 11, 2008 10:14 AM

I never thought of my career in these terms because I never felt discriminated against (until I became a working parent)and I probably would have continued moving upwards in my career if I did not have children or at least stopped at one. I was moved by her speech and feel very very sad that IMHO the most qualified candidate to be president is out of the race.

Posted by: dc reader | June 11, 2008 10:14 AM

"Actually, it makes me more sympathetic to Ms. Clinton that she didn't use gender as an issue - "

She didn't use gender as an issue? What campaign did you watch? She made sure her surrogates whined and moaned on a non-stop basis that she was the subject of gender discrimination throughout her campaign. First it was how unfair it was to comment on her sudden show of cleavage, her cackle, the convenient tears, her staying in the race after North Carolina and after any male candidate would have exited for the good of the party. Second, her supporters from Geraldine Ferraro to Gloria Steinem to Ellen Malcolm made everything from Obama's race to the NARAL endorsement a pity party for Hillary, e.g., she's being disrespected because she's a woman, not because she's a liar who would have never been elected to the Senate if not for her husband's connections, advice, and intervention.

As early as October 2007,and continuing throughout her campaing, Hillary Clinton said Monday women voters could shatter America's "highest glass ceiling" and make her its first female president. How overt a statement is that?

Posted by: ya gotta be kiddin me | June 11, 2008 10:20 AM

I have to say I was disappointed by the fact that Hillary Clinton was such a major woman "ceiling cracker" in my 5-year-old daughter's life. I wanted to use this as a teachable event. I wanted us both to be excited about what women can do. But Hillary is not an example for my daughter. Regardless of gender, race, religious beliefs, a person must tell the truth to earn the respect of my daugther.

There are plenty honorable women setting great examples for her -- maybe not "as big" as President, but in many areas that she can see and draw inspiration

Posted by: Arlington Dad | June 11, 2008 10:22 AM

To dc reader's point, I think the glass ceiling I see is more to do with children. As I said I do work with a lot of women. Of those that have children, not one is on an upward track. The women who are moving up in my company are all of them, myself included, childless. I know what that means for me: by my own choice, when I have children I will not be doing this job. I will not accept putting my job before my family, coming home at all hours and not seeing them etc. All these upwardly mobile women I work with, again myself included, are able and willing to stay regularly until 10 pm to "get the job done" and are praised and rewarded for that. Women with children are either in a static position here or they leave. I wonder if that will change once we all start having kids, but I'm guessing not, because the (female) boss is childless and not married and plans on staying that way and the male bosses all have SAH wives. So for my company - my department, really - I guess it's not being a woman per se that gets in your way; it's being a mother. AAAAARGGHH it makes me furious to have to write that.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | June 11, 2008 10:34 AM

My problem with all the clucking over glass ceilings (self-imposed or otherwise) is the implicit assumption that 'ambitious' must mean the pursuit of demanding, high-profile, and often high-paying positions. To NOT be ambitious in one's work is viewed as lacking. Says who?!?!?

I know plenty of wise women (married, single, parents, child-free, in their 20's through 60's) who choose a less 'ambitious' career path, one that reflects their desire to have meaningful relationships and a healthy lifestyle, as well as work, in their lives. How can living a full, rich life be considered "less than" the more visible success achieved by politicians and private sector leaders? (Not that there's anything wrong with those choices, either, but are they really the gold standard against which we must measure ourselves?!?!)

Posted by: Elaine | June 11, 2008 10:54 AM

Elaine, you are right on. Too often we measure success by how high someone has climbed on a corporate ladder or how big a paycheck is. The most contented people I know would probably not be considered successful, but boy, are they rich in happiness.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 11, 2008 10:58 AM

Posted by: babsy1 | June 11, 2008 10:05 AM

babys1 has a really good point -- I don't know why it's so hard to accept praise, but it is. Ex.: my team recently received an award for a pro bono project we worked on. I spent that morning b%$%&ing and moaning to my mom about how I didn't deserve to be up on stage because I just played a minor role -- all I did was figure out the legal theories, help set up the initial strategy, and edit the documents we sent out, but it was really the associate who ran the project who deserved to stand up there and take the credit. My mom responded with a flaming, all-caps e-mail insisting that my contribution was a BIG DEAL and I needed to suck it up and accept the praise. I think it would be practically impossible to succeed in politics without being comfortable tooting your own horn and spinning all your accomplishments to make them look even more impressive.

In the same way, I don't really feel like I've cracked any glass ceilings, because I was lucky enough to find a profession and a firm where people judge you based on intelligence and skill. So while I'm proud of what I've done, it doesn't feel extra special because I'm female.

But then again, I remember in law school talking to my mom about a recent job interview, where they flew me cross-country, put up in a fancier hotel than I'd ever stayed in, took me out to a fancy restaurant. etc. I hardly remember that trip anymore -- but I still remember the pride and awe in my mom's voice as she listened to me talk about it, and as she explained how different things had been for her. Because she got to choose between secretary, nurse, or teacher -- and once she chose teacher, she had to chase down the opportunities (on her own dime), instead of the other way around. To her, the fact that I was able to do something she could only dream about, the fact that big firms were chasing after me -- and the fact that I was able to take all of that for granted -- was breaking through the biggest glass ceiling of all.

Posted by: Laura | June 11, 2008 11:00 AM

mmmmmmm...... She ran because she's the wife of a former president, not because she was qualified. You need to expose your daughter to better qualified women in both parties.

My glass ceiling is being the first disabled to gradate from my high school (1976) and with honors. (They want mom to put me away) I got my MBA and make more money then most men in my family.

Posted by: sue | June 11, 2008 11:12 AM

If one person can name one high-office holder(Governor, Congress, Whitehouse) that hasn't lied in thier campaign - Great. It is interesting that so many judge HRC so badly for acting just like what she is - a politician! Is she being held to a higher standard than other politicians?

Barack Obama has little to no experience and crazy ministers. My dad flew jets with John McCain and he is a life long republican military man who won't be voting for the first time since he turned 18. He won't vote for a democrat, but he can't vote for crazy McCain who can't control his temper and irrational behavior.

Posted by: A Nony Mouse | June 11, 2008 11:14 AM

From the gender reversal side. When I turned 16 I was the first male "shampoo girl" hired to work for the Hair Cuttery, definately a female dominated company. I can't claim that the work was challanging or that I had to compete for acceptance, but not only was I the first male to be hired for that position, after 5 years, I was the highest paid. (I made a quarter more per hour than all the shampoo help in the Metropolitan area because I maintained the position the longest)

after almost 30 years since my first day on the job, I'll drop by with my kids for a haircut and visit with some of the hairdressers that I used to worked with. My kids think it's cool hearing them tell stories of the good ol' times when I was a teenager. And boy, do they give my family the red carpet treatment... Makes me think that I made an impression on them, as small as it was.

Posted by: DandyLion | June 11, 2008 11:21 AM

Elaine, while I completely agree with you, I think that if the women before us who set out to crack that "imaginary glass ceiling" felt the same way we would not be even having this conversation. Because of them I am able to have a choice in my mid career point: to be in a static position but still working (thanks TSP2007 for you nice post!) and get my "kicks" from my family and friends.

Posted by: dc reader | June 11, 2008 11:24 AM

Elaine - thank you so much. I think it's because that's fairly close to my definition of success that I don't have a problem with the idea walking away from my current job eventually and focusing on my family. I am lucky enough to be able to do that financially, and it's something I want to do. But for those who want or need to make different choices than me, who do want that career success or can't afford to quit - it's a tough row to hoe once you have kids.

Now initiating soapbox descent procedures.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | June 11, 2008 11:29 AM

Dandy, great story, but it still PISSES ME OFF!!! You were the highest paid because you were a male. NOT FAIR.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 11, 2008 11:35 AM

"If one person can name one high-office holder(Governor, Congress, Whitehouse) that hasn't lied in thier campaign - Great. It is interesting that so many judge HRC so badly for acting just like what she is - a politician! Is she being held to a higher standard than other politicians? "


This is a whole new low for HRC supporters rationalizing away the Bosnia sniper story, the "vast right-wing conspiracy" statement, White Water involvement and others.

No. She is not being held to a higher standard by those of us WITH standards. Your attitude reveals your disdain for good people by lumping them in with liars, then designating the liars the norm.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 11:39 AM

"(I made a quarter more per hour than all the shampoo help in the Metropolitan area because I maintained the position the longest)"

he put in the time, so he earned a quarter more an hour, not because he was a guy.

Posted by: To: WorkingmomX | June 11, 2008 11:41 AM

I think Dandylion said he was highest paid because had been there longer?

Posted by: not fair? | June 11, 2008 11:43 AM

You know what, I didn't read that far. I'm such a slacker. Sorry, if I'd read the story, I would have known the truth. I stand corrected.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 11, 2008 11:44 AM

I was raised by a woman who a broke major glass ceiling in politics, but refused to pursue her career any further because she didn't want to expose my father and me to the public. I understand that some women would like to say that "reaching the top of the corporate ladder" doesn't mean everything. But it really does...without female CEOs and Politicians we'll never be agents of change. We'll have to rely on men to give us the rights that we deserve to be working mothers and respect for all the many hats that women wear. (If my husband is any indicator, we'll be waiting a very longtime for them to actually find their keys, schedule the meeting and make a decision.) I grew up in a social circle where most of the women that I know made and continue to make more money than their husbands; but they still have to multi-task 24/7. That being said, you cannot deny the role fact that Hillary Clinton (I voted for obama) has sparked a very important dialogue about feminism, sexism, and women's issues.

As a Generation Y woman, I truly hope that these discussions will push us to dust off that old feminist movement so that we can really start leveling the playing field. When I started and completed my Undergrad and Masters Degrees, women were the majority of students. As a result, I think younger women are going to demand more from our society, in order to break that glass ceiling. Good on Hillary for making a run for the white house!! She is definitely a role model for being a female fighter, even if you don't agree with her politics...

Posted by: deedeenyc | June 11, 2008 12:00 PM

When my husband graduated from college we both got recruited by the same company and moved cross country (had our desks next to each other eventually) even while I had a year of school left. I negotiated that I would be doing my diploma on-site, everything was fine, BUT I got an offer about 10% less than my husband. The HR person (male) was slightly embarrassed saying "well, I hope you understand why we are offering you less..." I quipped "Because I'm a female?" He literally jumped up using oh-so-many words to try to convince me that it's because of my degree not being there yet. In truth, I was joking, but seeing his reaction decided not to explain. After I got my degree he was the first to run to me with new offer, and within 3 months they promoted me before my husband. Worked for them for 6 years, and they still treated me with caution, however it did not shatter the glass ceilng for anybody else, seems like one token "woman on top" was enough.

Posted by: Just kidding | June 11, 2008 12:25 PM

"You were the highest paid because you were a male. NOT FAIR."

Actually, though I got a paycheck at that job, I made most my money off tips and commision. For extra change, I would clean the hairdressers brushes, buff their workstations, shine their chairs, empty and polish their ashtrays. (Wew, am I dating myself, I couldn't believe that people smoked at their workstations back in the day unless I saw it myself)

Behind the scenes I was also asked to give back rubs, and when the hairdressers caught me in the back sitting down to fold towells, they would kick off their sandles, plop their foot in my lap, point and say, "rub!" Talk about sexual harassment! Worse than that, I had a female manager at one point that would do things like send me to the drugstore to pick up her BC pills, send me to the DMV to pick up tags, and buy gifts for her fiance. I guess I could have refused, but she was too darned cute to say "no" to.

I also made the coffee, washed the windows, and did loads of laundry all day long. Indeed, total women's work! But hey, I made more money per hour and the job was much easier than the work I did as a paperboy. (for the Washington Post no less)

I suppose this doesn't say much for making a crack in a glass ceiling, but it does show that some men aren't so beyond themselves that they aren't afraid to duck under one.

Posted by: DandyLion | June 11, 2008 12:32 PM

I have to take issue with HRC being a role model for young women. I won't point out her many, many faults and problems, the least of which is her husband, but she is a politician.

There are plenty of women in my neighborhood, school, church, and women's groups that deserve praise and the title role model, over and above HRC.

Having stated that, I think HRC got ripped off by the media and talking heads. The pressure to drop out became the story, not the issues or candidates themselves. I agree with Tom Brokaw (and now Katie Couric) that the press got this story wrong.

I am not saying HRC would have won on the issues either, but the media played a part in her demise and much to her chagrin.

Posted by: Get Real | June 11, 2008 12:46 PM

I would like us to start cracking glass on that whole "women telling women they aren't feminist enough" deal.

I crack a lot of things- unfortunately they are things many women tell me I shouldn't crack.

Women tell me I shouldn't want to be a home maker, women tell me I shouldn't NOT want kids, women tell me I shouldn't ever not have control over my finances, women tell me I shouldn't be a sl*t, women tell me I shouldn't submit to a man in a relationship, women tell me I shouldn't have multiple relationship partners.

But I do/am all of those things (well I can't be a home maker yet, but it is a desire).

I figure by doing what I know works for ME, I'm being the best feminist out there.

Posted by: Liz D | June 11, 2008 12:56 PM

Liz, I don't agree with any of your posts, ever, but I agree with your last one. I am tired of 'feminists' telling women what is good for them. As if we are all robots, or worse, someone like Leslie that worries what other people think all the time. Get a grip ladies, lead your life and be a good person and ignore all the pea-brained do-gooders out there, and maybe you will actually be happy and not just 'successful'.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 1:12 PM

Hillary Clinton is a role model and inspiration, as is Condie Rice, Madeline Albright, Christy Todd Whitman. I've never understood why politics matters so much when defining these things. I almost become physically ill thinking about the damage the Bush administration has wrought upon our country, but Condie Rice will always have my admiration because she is an extremely accomplished woman at the top of her game. Even though she's part of stuff I don't like.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 11, 2008 1:15 PM

Elaine -- The glass ceiling is self-imposed? Why would you do that to yourself? I think I misunderstood what you said. In what ways do you see women building our own barriers to success?

Posted by: Leslie | June 11, 2008 1:56 PM

@ Laura - what a sweet story. I took my mother with me on business trip to London/Paris - she marveled at staying at nicer hotels than she had with my dad.

@Leslie - road racing is definitely a fun co-ed endeavor. The ones I least expect often pass me and the ones that look like hot-shots end up behind me. Two years ago I finished neck and neck with a 68 year old man - humbling to say the lease.

Posted by: Kate | June 11, 2008 2:09 PM

I don't think that feminism has anything to do with the argument of staying home or going to work. It doesn't even go within a ten foot pole of telling women what they should or should not do. It's about what women CAN DO and FAIRNESS. But someone please tell me why our issues seem to only exist in the last 2 hours of the today show, a one-off piece in a newspaper or sometimes (rarely) on the view!?! Why haven't any of the Presidential candidates seriously discussed the cost of child care in this country? Before Gas, that's what a lot of women in my office were complaining about. Or the glass ceiling? Reason #1: They are men; it doesn't impact their lives. For all of those homemakers out there, if men in high places actually discussed these issues, it would not only help working women excel in their careers; it would also validate and show respect for the work that you do...and btw, just because a women does want to "succeed" outside the domestic sphere, it doesn't mean that she is belittling anyone's choice to stay home.


Ms. Anonymous, If you think Leslie has no clue, don't read her blog (it's just disrespectful)...we all know how you feel...drop it already...maybe Caitlin Flanagan has a blog.

Posted by: deedeenyc | June 11, 2008 2:12 PM

Ms. Anonymous, If you think Leslie has no clue, don't read her blog (it's just disrespectful)...we all know how you feel...drop it already...maybe Caitlin Flanagan has a blog.

Posted by: deedeenyc | June 11, 2008 2:12 PM

peepeenyc, I don't even know who Caitlin Flanagan is, but is it someone like Dr. Laura that is supposed to make all women on this blog go "uh-huh, you got that right! You go GIRL!"??

As for your analysis of what it means to be a feminists, apparently you fit in the "hate men" mold. I have never read more boring drivel. Nice that you swiped the homemakers in the process and added a disclaimer at the bottom, like we didn't read the meat of your silly post. Your 1960's icons would be so proud.

Many of us are tired are hearing about how horrible and oppressive men are. Why don't you beat it? Last I checked this blog did not require a name, and if it goes back to requiring one maybe I will pick "antipeepeenyc".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 2:59 PM

a troll by any other name would still remain the same

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 3:27 PM

"Why haven't any of the Presidential candidates seriously discussed the cost of child care in this country? Before Gas, that's what a lot of women in my office were complaining about. Or the glass ceiling? Reason #1: They are men; it doesn't impact their lives."

I don't know...the cost of child care impacts my husband's life as much as mine.

Posted by: a working mother | June 11, 2008 3:44 PM

"If you think Leslie has no clue, don't read her blog (it's just disrespectful)."

For grins and giggles, please explain what is disrespectful, just or otherwise, about reading a blog. Is it also disrespectful to read it if we think Leslie HAS a clue? When, if ever, is it respectful to read her blog -- and does it stop being respectful once you determine that Leslie's cluelessness is a matter of debate?

Posted by: MN | June 11, 2008 3:48 PM

"Many of us are tired are hearing about how horrible and oppressive men are."

Take us to your leader.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 3:50 PM

"Many of us are tired are hearing about how horrible and oppressive men are."

Take us to your leader.

Posted by: | June 11, 2008 3:50 PM

Our leader is a MAN, baby....

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 3:52 PM

is it a sign of progress that it's taken until almost 4:00 for the SAHM vs WOHM debate to pop up?

Posted by: tsp 2007 | June 11, 2008 3:55 PM

Ok, Maybe it isn't disrepectful..but that lady is always attacking Leslie and other posters...at some point you have to wonder, if it's soooo terrible why does she read it. I generally like Leslie's views, with the exception of the whole flip flops and balance thing...so if you want you can totally nail me to the wall on that one...Leslie does catch a lot s**t though.

Posted by: deedeenyc | June 11, 2008 3:57 PM

I do not regard Hillary as a role model. She lied. She agreed to play the game by one set of rules, then tried to change them once she realized she wouldn't benefit. She ran for the presidency on her husband's coat tails and with an air of entitlement. Back in the Fall, I was prepared to try to like her. I have ended the campaign disliking her more than ever.

My husband, daughter and I have bonded over this campaign, like Leslie and her daughter. Unlike Leslie, we've bonded as DD's learned about the political process, her parents' opinions, and the issues that are important to us. She understands the historical significance of Hillary's run for the presidency. She also understands that, while DH and I would love to see a woman become president, that alone doesn't trump the character of the woman in question.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | June 11, 2008 3:57 PM

Hey! I liked the Flip Flop and Balance column!

Posted by: Songster | June 11, 2008 4:23 PM

I'm back from Jury Duty - free for a year. You do realize that women were not permitted to serve on juries in most states even after ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, don't you? As late as 1943, only 12 states allowed women on juries.

As you know, I am no fan of HRC. Her politics and tactics aside, I find her a tragic figure in many ways. I often think that had she divorced her husband, or never married him in the first place, she would have been able to rise to prominence on her own merits. She was a major player on the legal staff of the Watergate committee, and was well on her way to a great career when she chucked it all for Arkansas and BC. As it is, her political stature will always be tainted by her association with an unsavory husband. There are many people who regard her senate seat as a reward for staying with BC, and all the good service in the world won't erase that. Don't those of us from the 60s automatically think Chappaquiddick when we see Ted Kennedy? I would have loved to have seen a woman run a smart, professional campaign and electrify the country. I'm a card-carrying member of NOW! I'm dying to vote for a woman I can respect. But HRC was not that woman.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 11, 2008 4:35 PM

In the past few months, my 8 year old son has been watching the democratic primary play out, and I had an interesting conversation with him the other day. He told me that he was glad that Obama had won, because he was a guy, and that POTUS should be a guy, because guys are just better. He then proceeded to tell me that McCain won't win because he is just too old. I nearly fell over. My precious little boy came at me with sexism and ageism all in a double whammy for which I was completely unprepared. I also had to wonder how he acquired these ideas, since they certainly are not ones that we endorse at home. It just seems to me that sexism and ageism are endemic out in the larger world, and unfortunately, not as taboo as some other forms of discrimination are. And that makes me sad.

So do I see Hillary as a role model? Yes. I agree she is not perfect, but I have great respect for her. She has given her life to public service. She is smart, informed, driven, and disciplined. I love to hear her speak -- she is such a policy WONK, and is always prepared. I can see why Obama didn't like to debate her. He was just no match for her on policy. And I see nothing wrong with her using her connection to Bill to seek the presidency. Men do these things all the time, and I doubt George W. would have become president if not for his father and family connections. It is just the way of the world. I also think she has been treated pretty unfairly by the media, and that gender bias has a lot to do with it. Because she is a woman, she is expected to play fair, be nice, be gracious, etc. On the other hand, she has to show that she can be tough and fight hard. What a line to have to walk. Be nice, but not too nice, or people will think you are soft. Be tough, but not too tough, or people might think you aren't feminine.

I am extremely proud that she went as far as she did, and that she gave it all she had. I do think she helped crack that glass ceiling, although I am sad that she was not able to shatter it herself.

Posted by: Emily | June 11, 2008 5:01 PM

"I agree she is not perfect, but I have great respect for her. She has given her life to public service. She is smart, informed, driven, and disciplined. I love to hear her speak -- she is such a policy WONK, and is always prepared. "

I thought we were voting for President of the United States. Not Girl Scout of the Year or President of the Podunk Chapter of National Honor Society. Your list of attributes is better suited to one of those contests.

Perfection is not the standard. Nor is being smart, informed, driven, disciplined or WONKISH. If the WONKIEST person got to be the standard-bearer, we'd be talking about Joe Biden and we're not. Are we?

It's funny how little some of HRC's supporters seem to have paid attention to politics all these years. Each party's standard-bearer is rarely the person who "deserves" it the most, or has the greatest depth of knowledge on one or more policy issues. Hillary was held to the same standard as all the guys over the last 30 years and was rejected for many of the same reasons. Voters don't seek the person who best checks all the boxes of some imaginary list of superlatives: "Most Fluent on the Issues" "Gives best Debate Answers" "Gave most of life to Public Service". Voters support the person who either inspires us or strikes us as the best version of ourselves. That's why Biden is gone. Richardson is gone. Dole and Dukakis were not elected. McGovern was kicked like a dog. Sometimes the stars just don't align. Of course, sometimes voters decide you're a lying piece of crap and that can get in your way, too. See Ted Kennedy.

The presidency. No one is entitled to it.

Posted by: Get Realest | June 11, 2008 5:15 PM

Get Realest - I think each voter can judge for him/herself what attributes they are seeking in a presidential candidate. I, personally, was seeking more than an image, although I do see your point. Bush was elected mostly because he seemed likeable. People gravitated to him because he seemed to reflect the image of your average guy who people can relate to (Gore of course, was much more WONKish and seemed less approachable).

Look where those choices got us.

Posted by: Emily | June 11, 2008 5:21 PM

Wow, Get Realest, that was quite a snit fit over the idea that some people actually care about the capabilities, skills and knowledge of candidates.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 5:36 PM

What you call a snit fit, others call facts. Take your pick. By the way, go have a drink with McGovern if you're ever in the Dakotas and you want to talk about how capabilities, skills and knowledge carry the day.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 6:49 PM

Time after time, people vote on the basis of emotion, not on positions or capabilities. We cast our votes because we are inspired by, or we identify with, a candidate. So you see union members who voted for Reagan, who fired the members of PATCO, and blue collar workers who voted for Bush, a millionaire. Emotion, not reasoned self-interest, drives elections. We do not make our choices rationally. Look at all the people who voted against Obama on the basis of his middle name - that's emotion, not knowledge.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 11, 2008 6:58 PM

Emily, what did you say to your son when he made those statements? Did you accept them as "boys will boys" words, or did you discuss what lies behind them with him? He seems to me to reflect the emotional makeup of most voters.

Would you want your daughter to take HRC's pathway to the Presidential race? I certainly wouldn't want that for mine. I'd want my daughter to be able to stand on her own two feet, and not to sell her soul for power.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 11, 2008 7:07 PM

No, people don't vote based on emotion - they seem to vote as to what's good for THEM. Whatever politician says they will take someone else's money and give it to THEM. So the US is going to he** in a handbasket cause no politician is looking past the next election (as with wall street, who isn't looking past the next 90 days). No one is looking to the future, just to next week, or the next election, and what is good for them.

People who are over 60 only vote for politicians who tell them that their precious social security won't get taken away - their kids and grandkids and the country be da****. So unions only vote for people who tell them that unions are okay and that they will pass laws to ensure jobs stay in the US - even if they are not the best way to do business in today's day and age.

I could go on and on....

We don't have leaders - they can't even do one darn thing. They have to ALWAYS put it to the voters. And if anyone is checking, we are a republic NOT a democracy - our founding fathers did not think a democracy was a good idea - that it was actually a horrible idea (we are proving this almost daily) that it leads to mob rule. Our leaders should lead, not follow public opinion polls.

Posted by: atlmom | June 11, 2008 7:35 PM

Actually, studies from Kathleen Hall Jamieson and George Lakoff show that people DON'T vote on the basis of enlightened self-interest. That's the "rational actor" theory of governance and diplomacy. It's the idea that if we only teach people what is right, if we educate them, they will make the correct choices. But as Al Gore and John Kerry can tell you, people don't actually think that way. And some of this is due to the way we make synaptic connections in the brain. When you accept an idea, however wrong or based in emotion, you build actual physical connections between brain cells. Changing those connections takes time, effort, and willingness. Have you ever tried to break a habit as simple as the way you drive to work?

I live in California, the STATE THAT LOVES VOTER INITIATIVES. Every election, we have 5, 6, 7, 20 initiatives on which voters have to decide. Let me tell you, it's a lousy way to govern. The initiatives can be poorly written, often conflict with laws already on the books, and make a hash out of the legal system.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 11, 2008 7:59 PM

Yet another ridiculous feminism topic from Leslie. How about renaming this to "On Women"?

Posted by: Looking for Balance | June 11, 2008 8:25 PM

No question babsy - here, too they are poorly written, and therefore, no one really knows exactly what they're voting for - i.e., it's only a fraction of the law, an abridged version if you will. And in any event, a terrible way to govern. As mentioned above, it was never the intention.

Voter initiatives are ridiculous - only because hello....what if the law isn't even legal, according to the constitution! But whatever.

In addition, there are initiatives all the time: should we allow this class of people (whoever) to not pay income/property/whatever taxes. No one ever discusses what's going to happen if it passes - i.e., now they're going to take more money from everyone else. It's not like budgets ever get cut.

Posted by: atlmom | June 11, 2008 8:42 PM

You don't want to know how much money the state spends on voter education materials which are mailed out before each election - two sets, one a quick guide, the other an expanded version - to every registered voter explaining each initiative, who supports and opposes it, the fiscal impact...it adds tremendously to the cost of CA elections. I usually have to dedicate one or two evenings before I vote just to read them through. That's before I even begin to make up my mind.

Posted by: babsy1 | June 11, 2008 11:16 PM

peepeenyc, So Leslie or you are not allowed to get your feelings hurt? OK everyone, no harsh words for Leslie or Ms. peepee, even if they are completely full of crap. This is a PC environment, which means you can't bash Liberals, do-gooders and Leslie and peepeenyc. I want to invite everyone to POLICE this blog, and if there is something bad, irritating or slightly off color towards our resident do-gooders, I want the hammer to come down.

Peepee, are you fron NYC? Shouldn't you have tougher skin?

Posted by: antipeepeenyc | June 12, 2008 8:49 AM

Emily, what did you say to your son when he made those statements? Did you accept them as "boys will boys" words, or did you discuss what lies behind them with him? He seems to me to reflect the emotional makeup of most voters.

Babsy - I did discuss these views with my son, and explained that there is nothing innate about gender or age that makes a person more or less qualified (not in those words of course). I asked him some questions to get him thinking about it. But I still floored me that he was so vehement about his views. And in the end, while he seemed to admit that maybe, boys aren't better than girls, he didn't seem too convinced. Viscerally, I think he still thinks boys are better. Of course we will continue to discuss this when it comes up.

Posted by: Emily | June 12, 2008 10:03 AM

I was the first female engineer at my company. And I found Hillary incredibly insipirational. She reminded me that the gender issues I have here are nothing compared to trying to succeed in politics at a high level as a woman.

Please - keep topics like this coming!

Posted by: engineer | June 12, 2008 11:01 AM

"What you call a snit fit, others call facts."

Not really. Babsy1 gave facts. You had a snit fit.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2008 1:13 PM

Hillary Clinton is a good example of a woman on the balance. I love and respect her. I am one of her admirers.

She's managed her home, including an unruly husband, and a law career. She stood firmly by her husband both times he ran for presidency and was never a bimbo wife. She kept her home together no matter the adversity. Her daughter, Chelsea, is a model child. Perhaps we should look out for Presidential candidate, Chelsea Clinton, someday.

Hilary is a good example for womanhood.

Posted by: Happy | June 12, 2008 3:02 PM

I'm going to be the first female partner in a thirty year-old law firm. I'll also be the youngest by 16 years. My daughter is only 6 and already notices when women are present or not present in leadership roles -- all without any prompting from me. Even though I would not vote for Hillary, I'm exceeding proud and thrilled that she has gone as far as she has because it gave my daughter a visual inspiration for her hopes and dreams.

Posted by: Nichole | June 16, 2008 10:01 AM

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