"Hillary and the Gender Wars"
May 10, 2008
Author: Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
Americans still think of their leaders in male terms, but studies recommend a much more feminine style.
"Hillary Clinton's tenacious presidential campaign—holding on after the pundits have declared her finished—has focused attention on the important issue of women and leadership. From her unexpected tears in New Hampshire in February to her expertise on defense to her dogged refusal to cave under pressure, Clinton is challenging old stereotypes and sparking a national conversation on a key question: does gender still matter when it comes to picking the president? The old stereotypes maintain that men favor the hard power of command, while women are more collaborative and intuitively understand the soft power of attraction. Most Americans still tend to describe leadership in traditionally male terms. But studies show that successful leadership may now require what was once considered a "feminine" style.
There are numerous reasons for this development. In information-based societies like those we now live in, networks are replacing hierarchies and workers are becoming less deferential to their supervisors. "Shared" and "distributed" organizational models, which place the chief executive at the center of a circle—not on top a hierarchy—are becoming much more common and powerful. The CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, has said that he now has to "coddle" his employees, and even the U.S. military has encouraged its drillmasters to do less shouting because, according to Under Secretary of Defense David Chu, today's generation of recruits respond better to instructors who play "a more counseling-type role." On the battlefield, meanwhile, military success in counterinsurgencies, the prevalent type of warfare, requires soldiers to win hearts and minds, not just break bodies...."
For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
Full text of this publication is available at:
For Academic Citation: