Clio Talks Back

I.M.O.W.'s debut blog, Clio Talks Back, will change the way you think about women throughout history! Be informed and transformed by Clio Talks Back, written by the museum's resident historian Karen Offen.

Inspired by Clio, the Greek muse of History, and the museum's global online exhibitions Economica and Women, Power and Politics, Karen takes readers on a journey through time and place where women have shaped and changed our world. You will build your repertoire of rare trivia and conversation starters and occasionally hear from guest bloggers including everyone from leading historians in the field to the historical women themselves.

Read the entries, post a comment, and be inspired to create your own legacies to transform our world.

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Deborah Feingold/Harper Collins
Book Cover - Dee Dee Myers View Larger >

Clio considers why women should rule

In a new book, a former White House press secretary named Dee Dee Myers proposes “Why Women Should Rule the World.” First she discusses why women don’t rule the world, then why women should, and finally – how women can rule the world.

Dee Dee Myers takes a lot for granted. Such as that women have a perfect right to participate fully in the political process. This is not a given in many societies today, even in countries where women do have the right to vote. Women candidates have been successful at the local level, but getting elected to office at the national level has proved difficult, a problem that women have addressed in parliamentary monarchies such as Norway with quotas, and in the French Fifth Republic with a constitutional amendment on parity in representation. Running and winning at the national level in countries like the USA, with single-member constituencies and election rules that differ from state to state, has proved difficult and expensive.

One of Myers’s topics in the final part of the book is “Closing the Confidence Gap,” which begins with a wonderful quotation from one of America’s most significant first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt, who insists that “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” And Dee Dee Myers insists that “it’s up to women to change the dynamic,” “to write a new script,” to demand the resources they need and take credit for their achievements. She also talks about the importance of role models for girls. In fact there is an entire section on younger women who took extraordinary action for change because they had been inspired by an older woman they knew or a historical figure they admired. They read biographies of women and men, they went to hear newsworthy women speak, they asked for autographs and shared their hopes and dreams. Just like you….

“The bottom line,” says Myers, is that “The more women succeed, the more women succeed.” “Sometimes, it takes one woman; sometimes, it takes many. Almost always, I’ve found, when there are enough women in the room so that everyone stops counting, women become free to act like women.” And once that happens, women can bring “a different range of experiences, skills, and strengths to public life” and we “can expand our definition of leadership – and of the language we use to describe it.” In closing, Myers insists that when women rule, “we will have changed the very definition of power.” It’s high time we did!

This is worth thinking about, wherever in the world we live. But it can only happen one step at a time, until there is a “critical mass” of women in the decision-making room. Until then, we have to do like the storybook figure of the “little engine that could” – faced with climbing that steep hill the little engine said “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” and she went faster and faster until she did!

Source: Dee Dee Myers, Why Women Should Rule the World (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008).

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