Hillary Clinton’s Run and the Presidential Glass Ceiling


Photo Credit: The Political Insider . April 2016

   Moms and daughters gathered under the glass ceiling of the Javitz centre to watch the election results come in on Tuesday November 8, 2016. They expected history to be made.

The first female President of the United States.

Unfortunately, the metaphorical glass ceiling still stands.

What Hillary achieved shows how far we’ve come, but we still have work to do. As I read Slate’s July article The Hillary Haters, three points struck me since the election favored Donald Trump. These three points parallel barriers I often hear from women in senior management in corporate America, and my own personal experience.


Photo Credit : Vogue

1. Humane factor – People hated Hillary for her “self riteous ideologue” and most recently for being a “corrupt toll of the establishment.” Briane Greene elaborated that Hillary Clinton came off as entitled and full of herself. Joe Biden, from her own party, had similar shortcomings but was seen as more likable than Hillary at the time of the July article. The underlying problem seemed to be a lack of charisma. Hillary did not seem to have the human factor. People don’t feel she likes them.

2. Americans tend to hate ambitious women with loud voices –   According to Marianne Cooper, head researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. Women who are successful in areas that are culturally male are seen as abrasive, conniving, not trustworthy, and selfish.”  Often other women will say- “she’s really good at her job – I just don’t like her. ” Although Clinton was admittedly really good at her job, many people just didn’t like her. Contrast this with Trump who has little political experience, combined with equally pronounced shortcomings, but is seen as capable comparatively by his base, and given leeway to “figure it out”, as male peers often are in corporate America. 

3. Likability goes down when openly vying for power – According to Cooper, “When Hillary announces she’s running for something, her unfavorability increases,” and “When she’s in a role, her favorability starts to creep up again.” Whenever Hillary is not directly competing for power the sweeping dislike of her diminishes. Again this parallels corporate America.


Photo Credit: Vogue

The takeaway:

Work on branding women in leadership as humane.

Support women finding balance between being loudmouth in order to be heard “at the table”, and being charismatic. 

Finally, remember the natural dislike we women might have for other women vying for power and filter our bias.

Mom’s and daughters (fathers , friends, and bosses), we still have work to do. We are breaking through the glass ceiling at the highest level – POTUS. In achieving this, our country stands to benefit economically – as evidenced by the the high performance of female-led companies in America.

As 30 year old millennial creator of Girls Lena Dunham put it, quoting Florynce Kennedy, “Don’t Agonize, Organize.”

P.S. Readers, how big a role do you think the glass ceiling played in the election?



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