An advocate for women
Author explains how America’s women achievers can become leaders
Author Anne Doyle thinks the United States has a problem. This country is home to the largest critical mass of educated, accomplished and politically active women in the world. So what’s the problem? America has plenty of women achievers, Doyle says, but disproportionately low numbers of women leaders – females on corporate boards, serving as CEOs, members of Congress, and in other influential positions.
It’s a situation with global implications, Doyle says, noting that there is still not a country in the world that has achieved equity for its female citizens. And women worldwide are waiting for American women to lead the charge.
So, what does it take to create a leader? Doyle decided to find out.
“American women underestimate the ability and responsibility they have to help lift their global sisters throughout the world,” Doyle says. “They are asking and waiting for American women Achievers to become Leaders.”
So, what does it take to create a leader? Doyle decided to find out by interviewing more than 125 women of different countries, generations, professions, and economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. What she found provides the meat of her book Powering Up! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders.
Female TV sports reporter
Her credibility in addressing the subject is not in doubt—Doyle was one of the first female TV sports reporters in the country. She went on to a management position with male-dominated Ford Motor Company and to a leadership position in U.S. politics. She mixes her personal anecdotes with wisdom from the women whose stories she tells to provide some real insight on how more women can move from being achievers to being true and powerful leaders.
Doyle repeatedly recommends that women run for office, explaining that it is one of the most visible ways for women of every cultural, ethnic and economic background to claim power. It’s also a great training ground, since it requires women to move out of their comfort zones by knocking on strange doors and persuasively talking to strangers. Research has also documented the side effect of speeding up the cultural mindset change that is needed for women to be seen as the norm rather than exceptions to male rule. According to Benchmarking Women’s Leadership, “Simply watching women run for office has been shown to galvanize female citizens, making them more interested and actively involved in the political arena.”
One piece of advice from Doyle: Grow Teflon skin. “Here’s the bad news,” Doyle says. “As soon as you overcome your fear, develop your vision and stick your neck out, someone’s going to take a whack at it.” Another: Watch women who raise their voices well. Doyle tells readers about her own role model: her mother. Sitting around the kitchen table after dinner, her large family did indeed raise their voices to be heard. But Doyle’s mom also demonstrated the importance of speaking up in situations that count.
Another woman Doyle admires is MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow. “Some of the guys were stunned and outraged by the audacity of the lesbian Rhodes Scholar who refused to be intimidated, talked over or shouted them down—something they had been doing to numerous other female commentators for years.”
She also suggests putting your power to work by empowering someone else. That will lead, Doyle says, to the next step, which is for women around the world to come together into a “powerful, collective feminine force field.”