Today my husband had one of the best ideas I’ve heard yet for solving the ongoing crisis in the Middle East: provide all the women with arms so they can take over their societies. Then they’ll work together for peace.
While he may be accused of reverse gender-discrimination, there is an element of truth behind his idea. In fact, we recently experienced the power of women to set aside conflicts and promote peace right here in the U.S. Last October, jeopardizing re-election in their home districts, women senators from both parties joined forces to break through the partisan impasse that was on the verge of shutting down our country. Their “negotiating framework formed the centerpiece of a tentative Senate deal to reopen the federal government and avert a disastrous default.”
As Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) put it, “The truth is, women in the Senate is a good thing. We’re all just glad they allowed us to tag along so we could see how it’s done.”
I’m still trying to figure out precisely why the women were more willing and more successful at working towards the common good than so many of their male colleagues. Are women, as a gender, more concerned with the good of the whole than with stoking their own egos or pursuing their own ambitions? (Certainly I have known many women for whom this is not true!). Could the very characteristics which make women more effective peacemakers or, at least, more inclined to take personal risks to promote peace, be the reason they do not move up corporate and political ladders with the same speed and alacrity as men?
When Business Executive Jack Donaghy (played Alec Baldwin in the sorely-missed television show, Thirty Rock), is passed over for a promotion to CEO, he sadly proclaims, ” I cannot go to another business school reunion and sit at the non-CEO table with the women and nice men.”
I would like to think that one’s ability to move up the ranks of power (be it in business or in government) and one’s ability to work for the good of the whole are not mutually exclusive. But the truth is I’m not so sure.