Power Tools For Powerful Women Leaders To Use In Real Life

In an upcoming HBO film, Kerry Washington plays Anita Hill, who in 1991 testified of sexual harassment in the Clarence Thomas hearings, and she is role model for women standing up to power. Kerry Washington is involved in another scandal, but this one is not her fictitious Thursday night shocker from Shondaland. This week Kerry is playing real life Anita Hill in HBO’s “Confirmation,” a film reenactment of Anita Hill standing up in 1991 to then- U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas.Hill testified about Thomas being more than a little creepy to her when he was her boss at the Department of Education and also at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 25 years ago. She swears she told the truth. Many say it paved the way for powerful women leaders in government. It was certainly an example of Power Tool #4 of embracing controversy.In TIME, Jay Newton-Small writes: “’It was so stark, watching these men grill this woman in these big chairs and looking down at her,” Democratic Senator Patty Murray told me for my book, Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works.”“’And I just said, I am going run for [U.S.] Senate,” Murray recalled. “Because they need somebody there who is going to say what I would say if I was there,” which would’ve been to defend Hill and question Thomas instead.”[bctt tweet=“Four very powerful women leaders are now on the U.S. Supreme Court.”]Four very powerful women leaders are now on the U.S. Supreme Court—Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who spoke last week at the Hispanic Women’s Council in Sante Fe.The highest court in the nation is now a game of the boys against the girls with four men and four women, as the death of Justice Antonin Scalia eliminated the gender tie breaker of a ninth justice.Speaking at New York University, Kagan said: “All of us are working hard to reach agreement,” she told an audience at New York University’s law school. That was true when the court had nine members, she said, but “we’re especially concerned about that now.“Writing in the Los Angeles Times on the relationship between powerful women leaders in government and policies that are favorable to women, author Nancy Cohen writes: “An analysis of 31 countries (including the United States) found a statistically significant relationship: the higher the proportion of women lawmakers, the greater the number of laws enacted to advance gender equality. Jennifer Piscopo, an Occidental College political scientist, examined 18,700 bills introduced in Argentina’s lower house over a 10-year period and found that nearly three-quarters of women’s rights bills were written by women.”Cohen continues, “Such findings don’t mean that all female officeholders seek to advance women’s rights, or that women govern only from the standpoint of gender. But the research does speak strongly to the fact that women and men in power have different priorities.”While there has been good news of women claiming their power in elected positions (a woman, Hillary Clinton, is the frontrunner in the Democratic campaign for the presidency) and also on the Supreme Court since then, the number of federal contracts awarded to women is lower than the number of male-owned businesses of the same size.According to a new report from the Small Business Administration and the Commerce Department’s Office of The Chief Economist, women-owned businesses are 21 percent less likely to win a federal contract than male-owned businesses of the same size.“In 109 industries (36 percent of the 304 industries studied), women-owned businesses  have statistically significant lower odds of winning contracts, covering 62 percent of contracts and nearly two-thirds of dollars obligated under contracts awarded in fiscal year 2013 and 2014,” the report shows.“The authors find that women-owned businesses are less likely to win contracts than their counterparts,” the authors write. “Winners of contracts are generally larger and older businesses. Women-owned businesses are smaller and younger than other businesses.”The power of women is literally the issue at Variety magazine on shelves for the 2016 Power of Women issue featuring Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o, Vera Wang, Misty Copeland and Megan Kelly.According to Variety, Nyong’o is honored as one of the powerful women leaders for her role in Mother Health International for African reliefVariety notes: “The organization is dedicated to providing relief to women and children in Uganda and other impoverished or war-torn regions, in large part by creating locally engaged birthing centers.‘It’s a tragedy that women’s bodies are used as tools of war,’ Nyong’o says. ‘When that happens, the trauma of war affects birthing. Mortality rates of children are so high and mothers die at such a high rate in these areas. It’s so important to change that.’”How powerful women leaders get to their positions is also on the mind of Dr. F. Emelia Sam who writes in Huffington Post: “For billions of women, the shadow of past centuries isn’t history but current reality. Even in supposedly advanced regions, we haven’t outrun that shadow. Traditional constructs of what power looks like and who should possess it still prevail. Consequently, how women relate to power can be complicated in many spaces. Our households, communities and workplaces continue to shift as we navigate relatively new territory. We’re in a period of disruption and the questions are many.”Speaking at a Women Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship event in Texas recently, Collette Burnette, president of Huston-Tillotson University, said she found her power in using what she has, and that is Power Tool # 4 in Gloria Feldt’s 9 Power Tools.“In the workplace, you have to be upfront and advocate for yourself,” Burnette said. “I’m a black female. I like being a black female. I’m good at being a black female. So don’t apologize for that,” Burnette said.[bctt tweet=“I’m good at being a black female. So don’t apologize for that.”]The lessons of women owning their power and the necessity of women to achieve power in leadership can start early.North Carolina State University student Maya Krishnan recently presented her research about the role of women in political leadership at the United Nations in New York. She told the campus newspaper, The Technician: “It’s so frustrating that gender is used as a construct to tell people what they can’t do. At this point, I’m 23 now, I feel like I’m trying to un-learn all of the things that I’ve been taught and fed by society in general about gender my whole life.”She added, “It’s hard because some of these issues with race and ethnicity are systemic in nature, and so finding like a policy solution that’s going to target that is really difficult.” Krishnan said. “But I think that what I found is that there are partnerships you can develop, and this is where the power of NGOs comes in, the power of organizations.”According to Krishnan, “Big ways like the pay gap, big ways like a lack of women in leadership roles, and then small ways of discrimination and stereotypical ways that people think about femininity, and gender and women and what their roles are.”No one can deny the power of media to influence every sector of society and Hollywood Reporter named 14 women – and 36 men— to its annual list of most powerful people in media in New York. The list of powerful women leaders in media includes Samantha Bee, host and executive producer of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee; Rachel Maddow, host of her own show, Amy Schumer, Anna Wintour of Vogue and Barbara Fedida, senior vp of ABC News programs, newsgathering and events.Hoda Kotb, named to the list with fellow “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie, was apparently not always a power player. She told HR: “I got rejected 27 times before I got my first job.”