The presence of women in positions of great power has long been considered an exception, rather than the rule. It was headline news when a female ascended to a point of influence and responsibility, and sadly, it was often followed with rumors of inappropriate behavior as their means of promotion, not competence and skill.
Fortunately, things have changed. There are still spurious accusations when a woman attains a position of power, especially if she’s not the expected appointee. But as seen in many areas, there’s no longer any reason to consider it out of the ordinary when a woman reaches the top.
The Corporate Ranks
The board room is more populated with women than it has ever been, and again, it’s becoming so commonplace that it’s hardly discussed when a new female face arrives. Certainly there’s a great deal of conversation when someone like Susan Itzkowitz creates a successful product line, but the narrative now is more about the impact of these exciting developments rather than the person behind them. She’s now seen as Susan Itzkowitz of March Fisher LTD, and no longer just a regular employee.
Part of what’s getting these women into the corporate world is their own resourcefulness in a very different environment. At one time, a woman with a good eye for fashion would have been able to do little more than out-dress her friends. But with the advent of online education, social media, and a more female-friendly workplace, it’s easier than ever for women to turn hobbies into careers.
Imagine the buzz in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was tapped to run as vice president alongside Walter Mondale on the Democratic ticket. Sure, they were squaring off against a powerful populist incumbent in Ronald Reagan–and were subsequently given little hope of victory–but just to see a woman running with one of the two major parties was absolutely enormous.
There still hasn’t been a woman chosen as the nominee (although Hillary Clinton is a serious contender for 2016), but women dot the landscapes of Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as throughout several presidential cabinets and in leadership roles in both houses. Will a woman hit the top job soon? There’s no way to be sure, but at this point it’s academic. Women are plentiful and powerful in politics, and there are very few breakthroughs left to make.
Power In Entertainment
We’re talking about more than just Cookie on the TV show “Empire” here. Women are driving music, film, theater, and television to new heights without any perception of needing a male to oversee things. Musicians like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry are hugely successful with musical messages about strong women. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler launched from the “Saturday Night Live” anchor desk to worldwide prominence as actors and performers, and the pair are go-to Oscar hosts. Ellen DeGeneres has a daytime TV juggernaut, JK Rowling spins gold out of paper, and even a mostly-retired Oprah Winfrey is still building fortunes for others with her endorsements.
To make a list would carry you through so many names that the point would be perfectly made. There is no longer any surprise in seeing successful, independent female entertainers.
And that’s the overarching idea. The days are gone of recognizing women as the first woman to accomplish this or that. It’s now about the accomplishment, not about the gender of the person making it. A few unconquered territories remain, of course, but it’s undeniable that women are on the verge of workplace equality in power and influence.