What Will It Take To Make A Woman President?

Posted on LinkedIn Influencers on November 20, 2013

In 2008, amid the historic election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, Marianne Schnall’s eight year old daughter asked her mom a question: “Why haven’t we ever had a woman president?” It’s a fair question. Countries all over the world have or have had female leaders, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iceland, Ukraine, Norway, Liberia, Thailand, Argentina, Peru, and Denmark, and therefore it makes sense that a little girl in the United States would want to know why her country has never elected a woman for its leader. This question prompted Schnall to take a good look at the issue, and to delve deep into the myriad of reasons why a woman has never been the President of the United States. Her research has produced a book, titled What Will It Take To Make A Woman President?, and it was released earlier this week on November 5th, a timely date given that it coincided with a day of elections for many Americans.

An accomplished writer and interviewer, Schnall is no stranger to the challenges facing women today, as she is the founder and Executive Director of Feminist.com, one of the web’s leading sites for women. Acting as a resource guide and informational tool to help promote awareness, educate, and advocate for women worldwide, Feminist.com began in 1995, and has since grown to be one of the premiere resource guides on women’s issues online. Additionally, Schnall has written extensively for O, The Oprah Magazine, CNN, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, In Style, and the Women’s Media Center, as well as being a featured blogger for the Huffington Post. In 2010, Marianne compiled her “Inspiring Conversations” column into her first book, Daring to be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness, and Finding Your Own Voice.

This time around, Schnall has gathered an impressive list of interviewees for her exploration of women in leadership, including Anita Hill, Gloria Steinem, Kirsten Gillibrand, Maya Angelou, Nancy Pelosi, Pat Mitchell, and Sheryl Sandberg. In looking at previews posted online, it is clear that all of these women have very interesting and pointed opinions on why there aren’t more women in leadership positions across all sectors of life, and in sharing their opinions, they also share their optimism for the future. As Sandberg states, “One day there won’t be female leaders. There will just be leaders. I personally think it’s a numbers game. I basically think the system is broken and there are all kinds of institutional barriers, but if we can get enough women into jobs like yours and jobs like mine, that changes.” I couldn’t agree more that change is possible, and it is my hope that when women read this book, they will see more clearly and understand the barriers in their path to leadership, and find the inspiration to overcome them.

Jacki Zehner and Laura Moore

Women ARE Inaugural Summit

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I had the honor of speaking at the first annual Women ARE Inaugural Summit in Los Angeles on November 7th. This unique women’s initiative brought together a room full of incredible women both in the audience and up on stage.  Women ARE was founded in 2012 by Beth Friedman and Angella Nazarian, two amazing women with a passion for community building!

Beth is dedicated to improving the future for women and children and she serves on many boards and advisory boards with that purpose. Angella is the best selling author of “Pioneers of the Possible: Celebrating Visionary Women of the World” and “Life as Visitor” and is a speaker on women’s issues. Both women were absolutely fabulous!

The day featured speakers and content in multiple issue areas including business, philanthropy, entertainment and health.  There was even an astrophysicist talking about black holes!  Featured speakers included  Wallis Anneberg ( philanthropist) , Sharon Stone (actor), Chelsea Handler (writer/comedian) , Thea Andrews (media personality), Willow Bay (news), Mary Hart (media personality) , Sela Ward (actor),  Cathy Opie (photographer), Lauren Shuler Donner ( MAJOR Film Producer), and many many more!

I spoke on a panel with Abigail Disney (filmmaker) and Nancy Aossey ( International Medical Corps) that was moderated by he most wonderful, brilliant and recently engaged  Penny Abeywarden (Clinton Global Initiative).  We each talked a little bit about our personal story and connected in to the work we are doing now. What I hoped to leave the women in the room with was a call to action to use their economic power, their financial power, in greater alignment with a vision for a more just equitable and balanced world. Below are a few of my take-aways from the day.

– Kathy Freston author of “The LEAN: A Revolutionary ( and simple) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight loss spoke so powerfully about why she is a vegan. She cited a lot of scientific evidence to really support it and got me thinking I really have to commit some brain space to reading it.

– Lorena Garcia a famous and fabulous chef partnered with TACO Bell to create some new products. Though I rarely do fast food I am now going to check it out. The salad looked beyond yummy and the moderator of her panel Barbara Guuggenheim swore it was better than THE IVY! ( a LA hotspot)

– Author Marianne Williamson was truly outstanding and I am going to order one of her many books!

– Ann Philbin of THE HAMMER museum in LA spoke about this idea of a ‘third place’ – that place being not your home, or your place of work, but that other place you go in search of community. The term comes from this book “The Great Good Place” which I have already ordered.

I consider it such an honor and privilege to be asked to speak at events and I love it when I can stay the whole day and enjoy the other fabulous speakers and guests. A big congrats to Beth  Angella for a great inaugural summit!