Loop 21 Covers Women in the World Summit 2012
Angelina Jolie, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and others weigh in
For the last three years The Daily Beast (now Newsweek/The Daily Beast) has brought together some of the world's most powerful and influential women to discuss some of the greatest problems facing women and families, and to seek solutions. This year's roster included Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and actress and Humanitarian Ambassador Angelina Jolie. Loop21.com covered the summit from beginning to end in the form of livetweets and interviews with high profile participants on topics such as the lack of parity in female leadership here in America, and what all of us can do to make the world a safer and better place for all women. Loop21's interviews with Angelina Jolie and others are below.
Laurie Kretchmar, "The 2012 Project" at Rutgers University's Center for American Women & Politics
Loop 21: What’s the greatest obstacle to there being more female candidates?
Women need to be asked on average 3 times to consider running and we have a great video on our site featuring all of these female state legislators saying they thought “Who me? I couldn’t do it and other women saying “You’ve got what it takes step up.” Often it takes other women asking them.
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Loop 21: Why do you think there are not more female elected officials?
Rep. Spier: Part of the reason women have historically felt they needed to be tapped on their shoulder and told it’s their turn. The old adage that polite women don’t make history is real because no one is going to tap you on the shoulder. If you have fire in your belly and are incensed by something going on the country you need to step up. Like Ann Richards said, “You have an obligation to someone more than yourself. We have only 17% of women serving in Congress right now. For us to really have equity and equality in this country we need to reach 40%.
Loop 21: Do you think part of the reason we don’t have more female elected officials is because of women not helping other women?
Rep. Speier: When I first ran for Congress in 1979 I was 28 years old and people kept saying I’m not going to vote for her just because she’s a woman,” and it wasn’t men saying it but women. For whatever reason there’s a competition that some women see when other women succeed. We’ve got to change that dynamic. Men see an opportunity of both rising. Women see a threat that somehow if one woman succeeds another falls.
Loop 21: How do we change that?
Rep. Speier: I think we change it in part with our young girls in soccer and baseball and playing a team sport so they recognize the power of working together. When I was a youngster that wasn’t available but it is for this generation I’m hoping it will have an impact on how they view each other as they move forward.
Anne Kornblut, Staff Writer, the Washington Post and author Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win
Loop 21: What’s the single biggest reason we don’t have more female elected officials.
Anne Kornblut: I don’t think there’s one. I think recruitment is probably a big one. Studies show when women run they win at the same percentages men do. Women don’t actually have a tough time raising money, even though people perceive it but women are not as likely to run because they perceive they don’t have the qualifications that men do. Men look in the mirror and see a senator and women look in the mirror and see somebody who needs more experience. Women have to be recruited by people in the community and also see themselves as being able to do the job even before they might be ready they need to see that image of themselves as being able to.
Loop 21: I read that some women are harder on female candidates. Is that true and why do you think that is?
Anne Kornblut: There’s a lot of evidence that women voters are at least as hard as men; sometimes harder. Sometimes not, but they are tough critics and I think for one thing women look at women running for office and say, “I couldn’t do that. I’m a mom with two small kids. I couldn’t be governor. How could she do that? Or they say “Why is she so ambitious? Why does she want to do that when she has a family at home?” Women candidates have learned to answer those questions by talking about what they hope to do for their children and all children.
Women also look at women’s appearances and judge them just the way men do and sometimes more harshly. If you look at Sarah Palin men supported Sarah Palin more than women did. I think women are critics across the board in ways you may even consider sexist if you didn’t know who was saying it.
Loop 21.com: Why is there still a dearth of women in leaders in Congress and elsewhere and what role do women play in changing that?
Attorney General Harris: We absolutely have a dearth of women in elected office and we have to change these numbers. I think part of the challenge is women have to be encouraged to understand their voice is important and powerful. We have to encourage women to run for office. It’s not easy. One part of that is you have to raise a lot of money. We want to do what we can to support women in that way. We have to advise women that they belong and that their voice count and it matters.
I so often advise and mentor women about entering politics. If you have a thought it is an important thought and you’ve got to articulate it and not be embarrassed or shy about it. What you have to say is too important and needs to be said. Look what’s happening nationally now around this ridiculous conversation around contraception. We’ve gone back fifty years. The reality is women’s voices around their healthcare and the mortgage crisis is very important and in order for us to have a real working democracy every voice has to carry equal weight and right now we need more women’s voices.
Loop 21: Do you think women are tougher on female candidates? And is that one of the obstacles?
Attorney General Harris: No. No. The obstacle for women is purely about access to wealth and power in terms of being able to run a campaign and have the resources to do and being connected to people who realize you matter and you need to be lifted up and supported.
Loop 21: What role do female mentors play in the success of female candidates?
Attorney General Harris: I think they’re critical. “Each one pull one” is the mantra I was raised with. I Wouldn’t be here were it not for my mentors, both men and women, and my female role models—people like Barbara Lee, the Congresswoman from California, people like Nancy Pelosi have been incredibly supportive of my career and have lifted me up when I’ve been a little down and people like Dianne Feinstein and many others.
Angelina Jolie, Actress, Director & Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Loop 21: If there was one piece of advice you could give to everyone here on what they can do to make the world a better place for women, what would it be?
Angelina Jolie: To listen to the women, because the women have a very strong voice and a very clear voice and women, like the women that were speaking tonight—not myself—but the women who were speaking about their personal experiences…If you listen to them…if you listen to the women in the communities…if you talk to the grandmothers, the teachers, and the daughters…they’ll tell you what they need. They’ll tell you what their children need. They’ll tell you what their communities need and if you listen and do what they ask, the world would be a much better place.
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