‘Women Run’

On Sept. 26, there will be a discussion at the Amherst Town Library on women running for public office. It looks like it will be well worth attending, and not just by women. Men could learn a thing or two from hearing women talk about the need for more of them in the public sector.

The session is being sponsored by the Southern New Hampshire Branch of the American Association of University Women and the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation which began a program called “Women Run!” that will be the focal point of the Sept. 26 talk.

The panel will be made up of local women who hold public office so the perspective will be from the inside and probably include details of difficulties faced and overcome, and why more women should hold elective office.

New Hampshire hasn’t been too bad in that regard, what with our four members of Congress, two of whom were governors of the state, and the fact that a previous U.S. senator was once the state’s attorney general.

But there is certainly room for improvement here as there is across the nation.

Now of course one could wonder why it is so important to get women into office. Are they so much smarter than men? Here is the perspective of Gwen K. Young, writing two years ago for CNN’s website:

“The evidence shows that female leaders typically have more compassion and empathy, and a more open and inclusive negotiation style. This is not, of course, necessarily true of all women — there are many different leadership styles. That said, modern ideas of transformative leadership are more in line with qualities women generally share: empathy, inclusiveness and an open negotiation style.”

What makes her so sure? She explains that her perspective comes from her work, to wit:

“Having spent my career in humanitarian relief and international development I can attest that placing women in leadership positions on development programming assures that resources are allocated fairly and effectively.”

That’s important. We can wonder, for instance, if the aid that went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and to Houston after Hurricane Harvey was fairly allocated. Did minority communities get the same care and concern as did the majority? The people of Puerto Rico might have something to say about that.

We find ourselves, unfortunately, living in an age when empathy, inclusiveness and an open negotiation style seem to have little to do with public discourse. What empathy comes from the White House toward migrant children? Toward Puerto Ricans still suffering from Hurricane Maria, especially when we have a president who denies the death toll?

How would a woman respond to these crises? That might be an interesting question for the Sept. 26 panel. The answers they give will tell us a lot about them as public officials and it might show us a significant difference between women and men in these situations. We know, for instance, how the White House, run by men, and Congress, dominated by men, are dealing with issues like want and need. How, we might ask this panel, do they think a White House run by a woman and a Congress dominated by women might differ?

So go, and we hope the audience isn’t all women, although we can understand that it might be dominated by women. If only Congress could be next.

The event is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

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