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