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Here’s How Women Leaders Govern Differently

February 13, 2020 by  

Two women, senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, remain in the race for president of the United States. Klobuchar placed third in the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary after a strong debate showing. Both women are likely to be held to different standards than their male counterparts in their quest to become commander in chief.

Heitkamp, who served in Congress from 2013 until 2019, participated in bipartisan dinners with her fellow female colleagues on both sides of the political aisle. They banded together to avoid a government shutdown in 2013.  

“A lot of women got into politics not — I don’t mean to generalize on men — but not because they thought it was their destiny or they thought that the world couldn’t survive without them,” Heitkamp says. “Voters tend to believe that women are motivated not by power and ego, but women are motivated because they want to see a change in the world.”

And female leaders often find a way to work together to make that change.

“Women are natural collaborators. They’re solutions-oriented,” says Ariel Hill-Davis, founder and policy director for Republican Women for Progress, a group that supports GOP women who want to run for office. “I think if you look at, specifically, the women that are in the Senate right now, they work really closely together. They obviously do not believe in the exact same things, but they support each other where they can. They actually have a lot of legislation.”

More female leaders are exactly what Americans need right now, says Michael Steele, the first African American to chair the Republican National Committee. Steele also made history in 2002 by becoming the first African American elected to statewide office as lieutenant governor of Maryland.

“Women tackle problems differently than men do. They bring a different temperament, and I think our politics need that. Our politics have gotten hot. It’s gotten disjointed,” Steele says. “Oftentimes, the cooler head is going to be the woman who comes to the table or comes into the room and looks at everybody and says, ‘You all need to grow up and start to bring things back to a rational point.’”

2015 study found that female senators worked with each other more frequently, were more likely to work across the political aisle, and were more active legislatively than their male counterparts.  

“Women, when there are enough of them in the room, bring a levelheadedness and a willingness to walk across the aisle to work toward solutions,” Hill-Davis says. “If you’re looking at 10 different things and you don’t agree on nine of them, we find that women are usually pretty good at finding that one thing that they can agree on and building from there.”

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