Evidence women can be great mothers while running the country
Image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore
At Politico’s “Women Rule” event on Wednesday, Kellyanne Conway told a largely female audience that because of her four young children, working for Trump’s administration would be out of the question. Referring to typical conversations she’s had with male colleagues, Conway said,
“I do politely mention to them the question isn’t would you take the job, the male sitting across from me who’s going to take a big job in the White House. The question is would you want your wife to. Would you want the mother of your children to? You really see their entire visage change. It’s like, oh, no, they wouldn’t want their wife to take that job.”
If reading that made you question what decade we’re in, you’re not alone. According to Politico, current senior adviser Valerie Jarrett spoke with Conway backstage and urged her to accept a high-level position, later reiterating to the audience,
“I think tone starts at the top, and if you have a relationship with your boss such that you can say, ‘Look, this is a top priority. There’s nothing more important for me than being a good mom, but I think I can be a good mom and have the flexibility enough to do this job well.’”
Jarrett added that you can always leave a job if it doesn’t work out (good advice for all job hunters) as a subtle reminder that sometimes it isn’t the job itself that prevents women from taking opportunities but their own perception of their abilities. American University political scientist Jennifer Lawless surveyed a group of men and women with identical qualifications and asked if they felt qualified to run for office. While 35 percent of men saw themselves as “very qualified,” just 22 percent of female respondents felt the same, proving the common adage that women are more likely than men to underestimate themselves.
The fact that 60 percent of female respondents said they are responsible for the majority of childcare—compared to just 6 percent of male respondents—further highlights this gender imbalance. It should go without saying that women should not automatically bear the burden of raising children. Unfortunately, that glass ceiling has yet to be shattered. It’s going to take a serious reimagining of gender roles if we’re going to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of female representation in politics (we’re currently 97th in the world).
Luckily, we have modern examples to prove that cultural shift is within our grasp. Here are five mothers currently excelling in high-level positions and proving Kellyanne Conway wrong in the process.
Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
McCarthy on the right. (Image via Flickr/US Embassy Canada)
Over the past 30 plus years, McCarthy has worked in all levels of government to implement pragmatic policies that face environmental issues head-on. She has promoted cleaner, fuel-efficient vehicles, better air quality, and energy-efficient public buildings as a means of improving overall public health.
Paulette Aniskoff, Deputy Assistant to the President
As Obama’s deputy assistant and the director of the Office of Public Engagement, Aniskoff creates opportunities for the president and his staff to have active discussions with the general public. A big part of that job is incorporating opinions that the bulk of Obama’s administration may not agree with. According to Slate, “Doing her job well … sometimes means bringing in people who don’t necessarily agree with the president or his policies, because they work to bring a wide range of American voices into the conversation.”
Jen Psaki, White House Communications Director
Image via Wikipedia
By commanding President Obama’s communication efforts, Psaki has helped distill White House information in a way that is easily digestible for the general public, while also keeping important policy issues relevant. She first forged a professional relationship with Obama while serving as his traveling press secretary during his first presidential campaign in 2008. He expressed that he was “thrilled” when Psaki agreed to rejoin his executive team in 2015.
Amy Pope, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor
In her role, which also includes being a deputy assistant to the president at the White House National Security Council, Pope uses her skill set to prevent violent extremism (at home and abroad), help refugee populations, and defend victims of sex trafficking, terrorism, and violent crime. She’s also a staunch advocate of getting women more involved in politics.
Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council
Image via Wikipedia
As a senior advisor to President Obama, Muñoz has championed immigration rights by working to streamline the visa application process and modernize immigration policy in the face of rapid globalization. According to NBC News, she’s a fan of practicality and debunking mythologies surrounding the border, saying, “It would be useful for the policy debate to catch up with the reality we are facing.”