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Breaking Glass

A few thoughts from women in the wake of Hillary Clinton's defeat

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Executive Women of New Jersey released a public statement last Thursday regarding the outcome of the presidential election.

Here’s what Maureen Schneider, president of the organization, had to say about Hillary Clinton’s campaign:

“While Executive Women of New Jersey is a nonprofit organization and cannot endorse political candidates, we felt it necessary to address this election, given the broader implications that it has for gender parity in leadership. Whether you agree with Secretary Hillary Clinton’s policies or not, it must be recognized that she faced a unique set of challenges throughout this cycle that her male opponent did not. Despite a track record of experience, she was subject to the traditional double standard often applied to women running for office, ranging from criticism of her appearance, to her tone, and even whether she smiled enough. Many of us have watched this dynamic unfold before, and witnessed it in the recent presidential race; it is reflective of the barriers that women continue to confront in the business world.

“As evidenced by our 2015 report on gender diversity in corporate leadership, ‘A Seat at the Table,’ qualified women are still drastically underrepresented in senior governance. The fact that we have yet to elect a woman president in America is indicative that we have more work to do around ensuring that women are taken seriously, have equal access to leadership opportunities and are compensated equitably. By no means are we advocating promoting women simply for its own sake; rather, our work is to ensure that the overabundance of qualified women are offered equal access to promotional opportunities and executive leadership positions.”

That is one of the few public statements I have seen delivered by a women’s organization in New Jersey on how it views and continue to consider the results of the election. 

I am hoping someone will correct me on that — and, as I have had a lot to say on the matter regarding what I personally believe based on my own experience and the shared experiences of my friends and family — I encourage others to email me if you would like to engage in further constructive dialogue.

A few senior women and minority leaders across the state have done so already.

Here is a small, anonymous selection of what they had to say:

“On the one hand, I find myself consoling my children and reminding them that there have been dark days in the history of our nation before. As a child, I lived through the murders of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, four little girls in a church basement — and, during this time, our Congress passed the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. Our nation survived and triumphed over McCarthyism. We fought a civil war and ended slavery. … On the other hand, I am reminded that those wars and fights happened. This nation was built on genocide and theft and, to this day, we treat Native Americans with disrespect. This nation was built on the sin of slavery and we still subject black Americans to daily discrimination, economic inequality, mass incarceration, decrepit schools, poor health care and voter suppression. What this election says about the role of women in our society is truly shocking and scary. But we will rise up. It looks like Hillary won the popular vote. Republican legislatures all over the country have gerrymandered and suppressed the vote to create this electoral victory for Trump even though he lost the popular vote. We will need to work hard and change things again; because we have an undemocratic electoral college, a white (man) in Idaho has the equivalent of 38 votes to my one. (But) the virtually empty ‘Red States’ full of angry, white men and their guns do not really reflect our country. The populous coasts of our country, chock full of diverse citizens, reflect our real nation and its spirit. We need to work to together to change things now.”

***

“I think that this is yet another confirmation that women are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts; Hillary was under a special spotlight that no one (no man) would be asked to endure. The standards were different for measuring her — despite the obvious disparity between her and her opponent. … I feel incredibly sad and pretty scared, and although I am hard at work and have not been less productive, I do feel very much like a dark cloud is over my head. The women I’ve talked to today are openly scared, angry, depressed and in shock and no one seems to mind saying so. I believe the acceptance of (Trump) and his clearly inappropriate behavior by about 50 percent of our country says it all. This was a non-issue and that is truly the worst part of all. All of his disrespectful attitudes, conversations and actions are ignored — which means they are not a priority.”

***

“I think we are living in a bubble in northern New Jersey and that the results show us that, although life here is great for us, the rest of the country doesn’t think so. I worry that the rest of the country will think it is acceptable to disrespect women and our daughters who are coming up. My (teenage) kids are completely beside themselves right now — and I am having trouble focusing because I am worried for my kids’ future. Politics are so personal that I think people don’t know who was for whom, so women will be reluctant to talk about it in the office if they work for the disgruntled white males that Trump truly appealed to. And the election of Donald Trump has set us back, not sure if 50 years, but definitely erodes all the progress we made with (President Barack) Obama. Even George W. Bush looks great next to Trump. I hope he will turn into a normal person after the election or that the establishment will get him under control.”

More Breaking Glass

Meg Fry

Meg Fry


Meg Fry writes about women in business, millennials, food and beverage, manufacturing and retail. Meg joined NJBIZ with past production experience in the arts, film and television and continues to write and perform in theaters around the state. You may contact her at megf@njbiz.com.

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