Alyssa McMurtry contacted me to talk about the article she was writing on “Girl Power” for The Economist. Women leadership is an issue of great interests to me and I have done research on it, but mostly in business. When I read her draft I was intrigued by the data on female leaders in politics.
“Women make up half of the global population but 77% of national parliamentarians are men, according to 2016 UN data”, McMurtry reports. And up to date, only nine women are heads of government. Well-known female leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May are just the exception.
McMurtry quotes Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada, saying that “Power is real. I say to women: ‘If you would exercise it ethically and intelligently, why shouldn´t it be you?’”
Gender parity in politics is a moral and success imperative. It is not only a matter of justice but it is also good for politics and democracy. McMurtry reports a study by the International Peace Institute showing that when women are included in peace processes, the chances of reaching a sustainable agreement (more than 15 years) increases by 35%. The reason might be that female politicians tend to use a more collaborative and consensual approach to negotiations.
So what does prevent women from entering politics?
One key factor is women confidence. Several studies support this claim. McMurtry reports research from Jennifer Lawless showing that women in the United States are a third less likely to run for office than men because “women think they have to be twice as good as men to navigate the sexiest political terrain.”
My study on the gender gap in HBR is also cited:
“A study conducted by Dr. Margarita Mayo, professor of leadership at IE Business School, suggests that despite their success, women are generally more affected by criticism. She found that after her students received critical feedback, females were more likely to adjust their self-perceptions to what others thought, whereas men were more likely to continue with an inflated sense of self-confidence.”
Women need to be encouraged to apply and take leadership positions in politics and business. McMurtry concludes “the world will become a better place for both genders when women get a fair share of influence.”
Question: How can women be more confident to run for office?