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The Sexism Card In This Year's Presidential Race... What Hillary Clinton Will Need To Win: Should She Cry? Show Her Feelings? Be As Tender As She Is Tough?

Feb 3, 2008
No one can dispute... this is an historic year for women in politics. Will presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton continue to win primaries throughout 2008, perhaps earning the nomination of her party, and even being elected to the Oval Office? Is the country really ready for a woman at the top of the charts and the free world? Is this the right woman for the "ultimate political CEO position?"

As we all explore whether Hillary will be the first woman to ascend to the job of U.S. President... it pays to take a look at the culture and experiences in Corporate America itself. After all, we know that gender bias exists in all levels of business and politics, particularly at the top. We can't deny that the "sexism" card will eventually be played -- whether by Hillary's opponents, by someone in the private sector, by the media (intentionally or not) or even by Hillary's camp itself -- to either discredit this female candidate OR give her a special advantage at the polls.

While the caucuses and primaries held so far are not conclusive, the red states and the blue states face history's first true test of sending a woman to the White House (as something other than first lady!). What does the pulse of the country say about Hillary as the first woman president?

Let's also review the approach a woman must take to break the world's most prestigious Glass Ceiling, and how corporate American interprets the "rules" involved. Can all this be applied to Hillary and her history-making candidacy?

First of all, we must examine the candidate's style, look, voice, approach, body language, attire, image and positioning. Even men in power must be conscious of these key elements. But a woman -- especially in this new arena of power -- will be attracting even more scrutiny. As a force like Hillary Clinton reveals her leadership strengths vs. limitations, she will need to:

* Attract and impress both Wall Street and Main Street.

* Demonstrate her softer side. That might very well include refining her sense of humor, along with a persona that freely shows feelings, emotions and caring -- perhaps revealing tears.

* Continue to stack up against the big boys. Gaining credibility as a landslide-elected U.S. Senator in the nation's most populous state is a giant stepping stone she has already achieved.

* Balance her unique circumstances as the outspoken spouse of a recent president, aligning herself with his triumphs and distancing herself from his mistakes and image troubles.

* Rely on the thick skin she has developed after decades in public and political life. After all, shards from that glass ceiling (not to mention her detractors' criticisms) could more than sting.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling of the White House is going to take a powerful, magnetic, yet warm personality. It is going to be a woman who can show leadership like John Kennedy and heart like Ronald Reagan. Who decides if Hillary is the one? The American voter will -- let's help them decide.
About the Author
Diane Dutton, author of A WOMAN'S LADDER TO SUCCESS IS PAVED WITH BROKEN GLASS CEILINGS, has appeared on dozens of shows nationwide. Reach her for interviews and speaking engagements: 702-683-9893, ddutton@businesswomenspeak.com and sign up for her free newsletter at http://www.businesswomenspeak.com
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