We’re All A-Twitter About Women In Leadership

Twitter.  Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am not really crazy about Twitter.  I have an account because it is required for staff members at the charity for which I work, so that we can use it to promote charity stuff, and occasionally I use it for personal things.  But really, I have had it for a year and I tweet VERY rarely.

But Twitter did get a couple more points in my book because earlier this week, Vital Voices used Tweetchat to host a discussion about women in policy, especially the field of International Affairs.  And yours truly was invited to participate in this conversation because someone at Vital Voices noticed a previous post of mine, “Goodbye Sandwich-Making, Hello Policy-Making…Sort Of”, and thought I might be interested since we were discussing the articles that I wrote about in that blog post.

We talked about a lot of things, like WHY do we even need women in policy?  Other members of this discussion referenced studies that revealed that, for example, in India, local-level female leaders paid a lot more attention to issues like sanitation, and another study that showed that countries that had a higher percentage of women in parliament spent a higher proportion of their GDP on education, because children’s issues become more paramount to women’s leaders.

And on top of that, we talked about barriers that women face in entering and rising within the International Relations sphere, which is a subject I tried to more thoroughly discuss in the aforementioned blog post.  In general, women participating in this discussion expressed hopes that think tanks will try to make women experts more prominent, and to try to promote a greater balance in the workplace, but we can only hope that this is what will actually happen.  As Gayle Lemmon, a participant in the discussion and the current Deputy Director of the Women’s Issues Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, pointed out “women cannot be half the population AND a special interest group.  They need to use their voices.”  I could not agree more.  Women who seek to work in the International Relations field need to have the tenacity to stick with it and to make themselves heard, even in a room full of men.

The discussion was very interesting, and a lot of prominent thinkers and organizations (Vital Voices, Stephenie Foster of American University and formerly of Planned Parenthood International, the Center for International Private Enterprise, Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton University, Gayle Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations, Martha Mertz of ATHENA International, and several others) weighed in on this issue, but the fact of the matter is, only time will tell if the waves caused by Micah Zenko’s article will help women trying to make it in IR sink or swim…but I can tell you one thing: we’re all sunk if we’re not willing to kick our way to the surface.

 

Have any thoughts on the issue of women in political or international leadership?  Comment this post or email me at RadicalButLogical@gmail.com

OH! And a little side note: in the interest of not using my personal/Harry Potter Alliance twitter for future Tweetchats or feminist musings in general, I have created an account @TheRadicalIdea on Twitter, in case any of you decide you want to follow it.  (I don’t know why you would, you’re better off following my Tumblr, since I barely remember to update Twitter in the first place)

 

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~ by Randi Saunders on July 31, 2011.

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