When I was a little kid, I dreamed of the day when our country would have its first female president. Every time I saw a picture of whoever was in charge at the time, I’d wonder why a girl like me wasn’t being represented in the political arena. As children, we’re often taught that anything we want is possible and that dreams really do come true. I believed the empowering messages of certain loved ones and teachers, knowing full well that when the time was right, our nation would be run by a badass lady.
Now that I’m technically of age to run for president myself, I’ve got a big ass question on my mind. How the fuck has my dream not yet been fulfilled? And why are there boatloads of older, white men policing my body, my inherent rights, and dictating who I can and cannot love?
Back in 2017, I came across a keynote address made by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren at the National Women’s Law Center’s 45th anniversary gala. In it, she lifts the veil on an aspect of her past that directly contributed to her entering full force into politics. As she was drowning in the mental mother-load of waters of trying to raise kids, work, and go to school, her 78-year old Aunt Bee presented her with an offer she couldn’t refuse.
Struggling to juggle mom life and a new job, the candidate’s situation significantly worsened when her only babysitter quit. She couldn’t find a decent childcare option around her, leaving her to multi-task even more. When Bee randomly called to check in one evening to see how her niece was doing, Warren immediately broke down in tears and told her aunt she needed to quit the job she deeply loved.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Bee said that she’d be there soon. Days later, she was on Warren’s doorstep with seven suitcases and a Pekingese named Buddy. Her aunt believed so strongly in the new mom’s dream that she stayed with Warren’s family for a whopping 16 years.
“I’m a United States Senator today in part because my Aunt Bee rescued me on that Thursday in 1979,” Warren says in her keynote. “Without childcare, I was a goner. And I know how lucky I was, because so many working moms don’t have an Aunt Bee who can fly in and help out.”
Part of Warren’s presidential platform is to provide universal childcare to Americans across our country. While she wishes we all had our own Aunt Bee to pitch in, her greater wish is for parents everywhere to have easy, affordable support. To me, this sounds like a no-fucking-brainer. But even in these modern times, it is a revolutionary and novel concept for a presidential candidate to advocate for a universal childcare option – and even more so when proposed by a woman with lived experience as a mother.
Back in February, Warren released her plan to have the federal government partner up with local groups to create a network of childcare programs that would be completely free for anyone earning 200% under the federal poverty line. Everyone else would get to pay via sliding scale, and care would be provided for kids from the time they’re born until they’re five years old.
While Warren’s main progressive rival Bernie Sanders has made past attempts to get universal childcare implemented, it is not currently a part of his presidential platform. And the only other candidate who supports universal childcare is recent debate mansplainer Pete Buttigieg. For me, this means that my best hope for a presidential choice that is as empowering for women as it is for parents of young children seems to be Warren.
Which leads me to wonder what it would actually be like to have a female president voted in this year. And more so, I’m curious about what would happen if more women were running shit all over the place. If we already show as much promise with advocating for the needs of parents as Warren does, how do we measure up in other areas?
According to a shit ton of research, a whole fucking lot.
Columbia and SIPA’s Journal of International Affairs set out to determine the impact a female leader has on the country she runs. What they discovered in their findings was pretty damn awesome. Research has largely shown that divisiveness in the racial and ethnic diversity within a country negatively impacts its economic growth, especially in places where there is extreme strife and even great oppression. But in diverse countries run by female leaders, economies thrive significantly more than when they’re run by men.
“When led by a woman, [countries] had an average of 5.4% GDP growth in the subsequent year, as compared with their male counterparts’ 1.1%,” says Susan Perkins and Katherine W. Phillips in a Harvard Business Review article that shares their findings.
The reason for this economic leap is that women are often more inclusive in how they lead, which has the ability to close the gap between diverse groups.
“Given what our research has found, and the research on how having women in leadership roles benefits a company’s bottom line, it is clear that companies and countries should make it a priority to identify and promote talented women,” the researchers explain. “Besides being the right thing to do for equality of opportunity and equity in pay, advancing women can also, as we’ve found, have tangible financial benefits.”
Extensively executed research has also proven that women tend to be overwhelmingly more collaborative and team-oriented in working and leadership positions, possess more empathy, and have much less of a tendency toward violence. Since Joe Biden himself recently said that “foreign policy is a logical extension of personal relationships,” it sounds like the ladies have the mama bear power to make it happen and then some.
These mad female skills don’t just benefit our countries, they have the great potential of benefiting our companies too. According to a vast array of studies, women tend to outperform men when it comes to initiative taking and driving change within a company, they collect more data when making decisions, they’re more open to hearing varying opinions on topics, and they build a more collaborative work environment through deeper interpersonal relationships and (you guessed it!) inclusion. Last, but not least, companies like Fortune 500s that have more female leadership financially outperform their male-dominated counterparts.
So why the fuck aren’t women running the world yet? According to a new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Extension, it’s because many of us lack the confidence to take the risks needed to run for office or advocate to become leaders in our countries. Despite usually having as much experience as the men who run for the same positions, women don’t feel as qualified to go after certain jobs.
And that sucks.
To every single woman reading this, please start taking up more space in this world. Champion your female friends. Speak up when you don’t agree with something. Take risks and try new things. Ask for that raise. Try being someone’s Aunt Bee or let someone be yours. Fake it til’ you fucking make it, just like men have been doing for generations.
If you have kids, own that you’re a kick ass life-juggling mom who deserves so much respect in and out of the workplace. Know that our empathy and our maternal hearts give us Captain Marvel strength. Our individual and collective power, when harnessed with confidence, has been literally proven to change the world for the better. Teach your daughters not to give a flying fuck how others may respond to them asserting their boundaries, embracing their inherent worth, and going after what matters to them.
And please make sure to vote for a presidential candidate who actually gives a damn about the rights of women – and mothers – in our country.