Posted by: drshollen | February 25, 2013

Reflection Assignment for 2/28 class

Using Zeilinger’s article “Why Millennial Women Do Not Want To Lead” as the basis for your response, explain your reaction to her claim that young women opt out of leading because they equate leadership with perfection. In addition, discuss your reactions to 2-3 other claims she makes in her article. (Note, your response should be a few solid paragraphs in length. Be thorough and thoughtful.)


Responses

  1. I was extremely interested in what this young woman had to say. It was very refreshing to hear from someone who is not a leadership scholar or above the age of 40. She is very eloquent and what she has to say is very applicable, regardless of the fact that she is 19! I see what she means about women holding themselves to a higher standard and striving for perfection more than men. Upon closer examination, I think it may be a fear of failure that drive women to be perfect. Failure is not an option because that will set women back in the struggle they have valiantly fought for equal opportunity. However, this fear can be very crippling. Men have the benefit of the precedent and women must combat going against the grain by achieving more. It becomes an issue when women hold themselves to perfection.

    I was intrigued by her discussion of women and how they have arrived to holding themselves to perfection. It has been trained into womankind from young ages to even younger today due to media influence. Women are trained that they must achieve in every aspect of their life and it is not enough to be “good enough”. Just as I mentioned before, women have to do better than men to be considered “equal” in the eyes of society or even their own eyes. Zeilinger targets the sad truth that young women have unrealistic body image expectations and therefore are usually unhappy with themselves. This breeds insecurities that can ultimately cripple women from thinking they can do a great job as whatever they want to be.

    Zeilinger implores women to encourage other women which made me think about Miss Representation and how they also called out women for judging other women. It is something that is psychologically written into society and within ourselves so it will be just as difficult to change this and the definition of leadership for women. By knocking other women down and trying to achieve your own perfection, women are unknowingly knocking the only women who are trying to push around societal barriers out of the running. As Zeilinger said, it will take a self-assured woman to overcome these challenges. Rather than attacking the whole mindset and trying to change society and definitions we have become accustomed to, I feel it is best to show by example. If people realize that women are capable, completely taking them out of the equation of trying to make it equal, there will be no doubt that women can achieve whatever they want to and they may get the support that they are craving.

  2. This article was extremely intriguing. I have never really thought about perfection being a factor for why women leave the workplace or not enter it at all. I do feel this sense of pressure that is upon women to be perfect and to always do or say the right thing and if you don’t you could get fired or face other consequences. I feel the pressure now in school to perform at a very high level. I really liked how she addressed that it starts even before a woman goes in the workplace. It starts in high school and even middle school through media. Woman are seen as sexual objects in the media and every few years I feel that girls are starting to become more self conscious of their bodies at younger ages. There bodies need to be “perfect” according to media standards. We live in a society that cares more about what women look like, than their leadership abilities or capabilities and their intelligence level.

    Zeilinger is right, we do need strong leadership in this day and age. Leadership should be more than perfection, it should not even be about perfection because no one is perfect and they never will be. Intelligence and integrity are more than enough when it comes to leadership. Mistakes are going to happen and a good leader should be able to learn from their mistakes and improve their skills from those mistakes. Men are expected and encouraged to make a mistake and that perfection is not necessary to be successful. Men are sometimes rewarded for making a mistake. Why is it apparently so crucial for women to be perfect or do everything perfectly?

  3. I thought that Zeilinger’s point about women opting out of the workforce because of added pressure put on by the expectation to be perfect was spot on. I have felt that in my own life and seen it in the women leaders that I look up to. I think a lot of that has to do with the media and the fact that women in the public eye are scrutinized so much more than men. We as a society hold women to a much higher standard, which increases the pressure to perform to society’s expectations. Women basically do have to be perfect if they want to be considered successful.

    Zeilinger brought up an interesting point when she said that the feminist movement only addressed the problems women were facing superficially. Laws and policies were changed (which certainly wasn’t a small feat) but the movement failed to change the psychological factors that prohibit or discourage women to lead as well as allow take those who do seriously. I think she’s right about that, but in the same breath, I think it’s important to recognize that changing a mindset that is so ingrained into our culture is almost impossible, especially in such a short period of time.

    Another thing that Zeilinger mentioned has been something we’ve discussed quite a bit in class. She suggests redefining leadership itself to have neither male nor female characteristics (or advantages) but rather expected virtues as a viable solution. I think that this point goes hand in hand with our conversation revolving around a great woman theory of leadership. We all seemed to be in agreement about how that wouldn’t give us progress but would instead set us back and almost start up a sort of reverse sexism.

  4. Zeilinger’s claim that young women opt out of leadership roles because they equate leadership with perfection both surprised me and resonated with me. The prospect of undertaking a leadership position is daunting, and even more so with the number of negative responses many leaders receive when they do not perform well. In the case of women, it can seem even more daunting because every aspect of our lives is viewed with a deeper meaning, even our choice of shoe color. Our generation grew up with the media showing us examples of girl leaders as unattainably beautiful and successful, and gave us an unrealistic expectation of every leadership position, which of course none of us could possibly compare to. Regardless of whether or not we are affected by those examples, many of our peers are and that significantly obstructs our ability into those leadership positions.

    I thought it was interesting that she believed that men are taught they are entitled to leadership in a way women are not. I do not think that the messages we receive from the media, and the mental models those create, make us feel less entitled to leadership positions. Rather, they make us believe that there is a specific woman (i.e. the beautiful, always put together girl) that is better suited for that position. Of course, if all women think like this, then we are all waiting for this perfect girl to come take a position and men are free to take it in the meantime.

    Ultimately, the key point that most likely strikes a chord with every young woman is Courtney Martin’s statement, “we are a generation of young women who were told we could do anything and instead heard that we had to be everything.” While we were taught from a young age that we could achieve anything we set our minds to, we were also told of the underlying expectations that define success for women including a family, a career, and a social life. We were able to pick our career, but we were expected to also be able to juggle a family and a social life in the mix. This concept coupled with the mental model of the perfect female can discourage many young women from leadership positions. However, like Zeilinger states in her conclusion, becoming aware of these mental models is an important step in changing them. While I agree that as a society we need to change, there is nothing else we can do if women cannot learn to accept themselves regardless of the messages they receive.

  5. My initial reaction was that of disbelief, I honestly could not believe a woman would be set back by the idea of perfection in this day and age. Personally I think of perfection as an ultimate goal (one I may never reach) but I use it as a way to motivate and guide my actions. So when Zeilinger stated that women are curbed by this need for perfection I was taken back. But when I started to contemplate the thought it did begin to make sense to me. Everyone is different and we all consider topics uniquely. However I do not believe this idea should be something that holds us back, rather it should be an idea that we strive for and a concept that drives our ambition.

    Zeilinger’s idea that intelligence and integrity are what should be focused on in a leader is exactly right. The problem with people today and for generations has been that we are hung up on this idea of beauty and intelligence and the whole package. If a woman is too “ugly” but still has intelligent thoughts they are disregarded as a shrew or too manly and over-compensating. But if she is too “pretty” she will be regarded as a bubble head, such is the idea we’ve seen in the “Bitch and the Ditz” article. In order for this to be corrected for future generations I agree with her that we need to reshape the current idea of leadership in the minds of the public. Only then can we begin to move forward with our society and surpass the barriers we have put on ourselves and on others.

    I think women also need to try and change our idea of what a leader needs to be in order to encourage younger generations to stand up for what they believe in. If we can convince our daughters at a young age that the weight will come off, our faces will change and develop, and beauty is something that comes from inside rather than what you put on your face then we can finally break the barriers that we put on ourselves. But we cannot hope to do this until we convince parents today that their children are perfect the way they are. Until every last parent is able to do this, we will not be able to change the culture.

  6. Zeilinger makes a great argument in her position of why women aren’t willingly stepping up to be leaders. Many of the women that I know, even myself, have set an unrealistic goal of perfection. Straight A’s and extracurriculars are no longer enough to hold a leadership position; you have to be attractive, intelligent, nurturing, yet not too nurturing, yet not a bitch. I love it when she says that the “self-destructive, unattainable quest becomes all the more consuming, dominating more of our time and energy and taking us prisoner at younger and younger ages.” When I babysit girls, I find it more and more obvious that girls at younger ages are developing poor body images and an overall lack of confidence. The way that society is minimizing young girls’ confidence is saddening and like Zeilinger said, it is mainly due to the media.

    When women “consider becoming leaders, the majority of us are crippled by insecurities about the way we look.” This fact is threatening to the feminist culture because most women no longer have the drive or confidence to lead. Leadership requires a certain amount of confidence and without that, how can the followers trust that their leader is confident in their decisions, ideas, etc.

    I like how Zeilinger suggests redefining leadership from perfection to intelligence and doing the right thing and ultimately it will make the pool of leaders not so narrow. If women were not constantly being criticized, the equality in the field of leadership would be dramatically better than the “perfectionist” idea of a society that we live in now. I do however think that just changing millions of people’s minds is somewhat impossible unless done over hundreds maybe even thousands of years. The media is so influential and the industry is only growing. Imagine 20 years from now, what do you think the media would come up with and would it cripple more women from being leaders or would it change in a positive direction?

  7. I think Zelinger’s argument about the concept of women feeling the need to be perfect is a fairly accurate case. Being a woman from my generation, she has experienced the relevant and present matters that consume our culture. She grew up with the media that we face today, and is aware of the social pressures that girls focus on today as opposed to our mothers. Zelinger gives the standpoint of why women do not want to enter the workforce yet, as she herself is struggling to get there herself. Compared to the Opting Out theory, that women are voluntarily choosing to stay at home is ignorant to the many outside forces that women have to face in the work force. Woman have the pressure of trying to be multiple things that society expects them to be…pretty but professional, sexy but not all the time…a mom but self-sufficient… independent but still submissive. All of these roles and expectations are implanted in the minds of women at such a young age it is only more than natural that women face an identity crisis. The expectation to be perfect that Zelinger describes make sense.
    Media is a big factor that Zelinger discusses in her article. Media is the driving force that presents the images of “perfection” to young women. Like we have talked about in class before, media depicts women in a very sexist fashion. Young women are exposed to ten hours of media a day. That is ten hours of images that women use to compare themselves too, realistic expectations for body image and purpose in life. She focuses specifically on the Dove Campaign and how a majority of young girls are already dissatisfied with their bodies. How can girls grow up to be confident leaders in the world when they are unhappy with their own body image? The confidence to be a leader and be something great is shattered by this pre-existing mutation of self-doubt.
    Another major problem of equating leadership to perfection is that women cannot accept the idea of failing. Men do not have the same fear of failing as women do. Men are not under the same pressure to be perfect, so they are more fearless in their work. Men are allowed to fail, then get back up to keep going. Zelinger argues that men do not suffer the mental and confidence blow that women do. If women put less pressure on themselves and had more confidence, failure would not something that keeps them away from the workforce but encourages them to try.
    Overall I think this is a concept that needs to be investigated more. Women scholars that are a generation before us might be able to recognize the patterns of media and the concept of perfection women are driven to learn, but aren’t fully aware of. Women how have lived through it and fully understand the pressures of media and the subtleties around us are a new addition to the struggle women already face with entering the professional field. And like Zelinger said, it will not be until we re-define leadership that these mindsets will begin to change.

  8. Zeilinger states that young women opt out of leadership because of the idea that they cannot equate to the perfection that come with being a leader. She goes on to state that the two reasons why the pressure of perfection exists are through media influences and the women leaders today. I believe, of these two that media has a leading impact on young female’s perceptions. At a young age the upcoming generations are so exposed to media and as thus are exposed early on to the media’s expectations and ideas. For me I know that I have always strived for not the best I can do, but the idea of the perfection that can be achieved and is out there (or maybe really isn’t). I see the models on television and in the magazines and the success of women who look perfect, for example an actress, are making that I feel in order to achieve, part of it does have to come with having the perfect look. As we are taught in leadership, there is no set model of a leader, but there are things that the majority of leaders have to get them there. Appearance has become one of those things in today’s society that makes a leader and increases their level of influence, and as young women become increasingly insecure, they stray away from attempting to meet these standards due to these insecurities.
    Zeilinger states that, “young women today are bred to doubt ourselves, question our worth, and view ourselves as improvable projects rather than embrace the imperfection of our humanity”. We see the “standards” of women all around us, every day, and judge other women harshly because of these. But why don’t we just accept diversity like how we wish more people would accept diversity in gender roles? I wish at times that there were no standards in the world, so that everyone could be equal and not have to worry about how to fit in, act, lead, or be. Then who would the leaders be? Would the people who don’t look the part come forward with their high intelligence and the beautiful people fall mercy to the people with these kinds of leadership traits? My dad always tells me that I am beautiful and intelligent, and that I can achieve anything, which has helped significantly propelled my confidence and self-esteem. Without his continual support and encouragement I wouldn’t be studying leadership and I certainly wouldn’t be the leader I am today on CNU’s campus. However, this wasn’t always the case for me.
    Zeilinger noted that when walking into a high school, you will see girls afraid to speak because they don’t trust themselves and don’t want to feel inferior. This is especially true to me, for the reason why I hardly even speak up in class; even today in college. In high school I was always the shy, intelligent girl who sat and listened in the front of the room. I never rose my hand or spoke my opinion, but rather showed my smarts through always attending class, completing every assignment, and putting effort into all the behind the scenes work. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I started to realize that everyone wasn’t as perfect as they seemed around me and that in the right environment, I could speak out freely. Although I still hesitate today to express my ideas within a group, I am continually trying to expand my mental self-expectations and not let them be the destruction of my future. For me, Zeilinger pin pointed exactly where women’s turn away from leadership begins. Therefore, if more encouragement is given at this age to young women with positive reinforcements of the idea that they can become perfect women leaders, then the possibility for more confident women leaders is feasible for the future once this societal change takes place.

  9. In Zeillinger’s article “Why Millennial Women Do Not Want To Lead” she discusses the idea that young women opt out of leading because they equate leadership with perfection. Personally, I found this simplistic article to be very interesting and logical. Zeillinger touches on the historical progression and development made by women in the battle for gender equality. Quoting Courtney E. Martin’s book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters she says, “we are a generation of young women who were told we could do anything and instead heard that we had to be everything.” While overcoming diversity and achieving equality, women of the time faced certain pressures to perform up to par with the men already serving in certain roles and leadership positions. Suppressed by the added pressure, I suggest that the spotlight position created added tension and aided in women’s inability to see themselves at effective or worthy leaders.
    I found it interesting that Zeilinger discussed the 2008 Presidential Campaign and the bipolar contrast of stereotypes between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. As Zeilinger states, “Both women’s ideals were dismissed in exchange for commentary on their physical attractiveness or their ability or inability to live up to typical definitions of femininity.” I highly agree with Zeilinger’s opinion on this topic. I find it appalling that not only was gender roles and physical appearance so prevalent in this comparison but that they were only present for the female candidates. The male candidates in the election were asked applicable, informative questions throughout campaigns and debates while Clinton and Palin were drilled with questions on their performance in the workplace and home as well as critiqued on their leadership style and confrontation techniques. The vast degree of separation from the actual topic is persuasive and distracting to the voting population not to mention aspiring female leaders.
    One part of Zeilinger’s essay that I did not enjoy was when she mentioned, “when you walk into any given high school – or even middle school – class, the majority of hands raised, of voices speaking out, will be those of boys and most girls will sit silently, not trusting themselves to speak, afraid that all they have to offer is inferior.” This small section of the article disaccredited the article as it seemed like a broad assumption unsupported with any substantial source of evidence or proof. As a regular volunteer as well as recent graduate of the public school system, I would attest that this idea is actually false. Through my personal experience I actually witnessed more engaged, opinionated and participative females in the classroom than males. I would like to suggest that this might be due to the age range of individuals under discussion. I feel like males at this time are more engaged, preoccupied and distracted by a variety of other activates and are less engaged in academic success. Although I disagree with Zeilinger’s claims, I do feel like this idea is more prevalent in higher education and the workplace as men develop more domineering personalities and the pressures of perfection set in on women.
    Overall I found Zeilinger’s article very concise and thought provoking. I appreciated the tone used that instilled empowerment and urgency upon her readers.

  10. It is apparent that there is a large amount of controversy over the issue of women in leadership roles and how their positions are accepted in society. In this article written by Julie Zeilinger, I found her position that women were not seeking leadership roles as often because of the pressure to be perfect is an important and intriguing concept. So many women feel the urge to not only succeed in their profession but have the extra pressure of been the perfect example to others. Growing up, I can recall seeing women in high authority positions having that “perfect” personality, work ethic, body, and attitude in their positions. We are a generation full of young men and women who are told that we can pursue anything and everything that we put our minds and hearts to instead women only hear that they have to be everything. I think that media has a lot of influence on the concept of how women are supposed to look in leadership roles but I also feel that a lot of the perceptions that we receive and think that women should be presenting are given off from generation to generation and even vary based on different cultures. When it comes to being in a leadership position, I personally feel compelled to excel and do the best of my ability, whether that means trying to achieve perfection. The fact that women feel this unnecessary pressure to go above and beyond to be a perfect image that society has expected of women in leadership roles is a big issue.
    Julie Zeilinger also touched on two other interesting concepts about women leaders. Her discussion of media and the influence that it has on people in society is a huge concept that I think needs to be addressed head on. She noted that “By the time we are old enough to consider becoming leaders, the majority of us are crippled by insecurities about the way we look, which we internalize with our sense of worth.” This concept really grabbed my attention because it made me realize that a lot of the issues of the perception of women in these leadership positions are scrutinized and demolished by the images and roles that we see in the media. Television viewing is at an all-time high in today’s society and therefore is placing negative concepts and images in the minds of our youth and future. We cannot expect to solve issues regarding women in leadership if we are feeding our youth and children negative pictures regarding women and their gender in leadership. I have noticed more and more that women are sexualized in the most disgusting and disrespectful ways now a days especially on shows that teenagers would most likely watch. They disregard the emotions of women and their place in society and make women’s roles to seem to only be available to the pleasure of men. Media engulfs our attention into these concepts and feeds us these negative thoughts.
    Julie Zeilinger also notes that “in order for women to lead that leadership needs to be redefined altogether.” I think that this statement is true on many different levels. I believe that leadership should not be defined based on an individual’s gender or sex but should be determined by the qualifications and standards by which that person can uphold the leadership position. So many people judge others ability to lead based solely on the fact that they are either a women or man. I think that the reasoning behind this is because so many of us have these expectations a perceptions of what type of leader should lead in certain situations. We need to leave these images that have been placed in our minds from the media and influences from our culture and family life styles. Every person has their own unique style of leading and can be a potential benefit to our society. Overall I think that if we can realize that our society is in great need for strong leadership we can work towards seeing the talented women that are available to be leaders and not place those unnecessary pressures on them to be perfect by letting them know their intelligence and integrity is more than enough.

  11. Bear with me, but I want to use race as an equivalent argument to make more sense of her thesis. Back in the 1950’s, the black race was liberated by men who unchained them politically, just like women were throughout the 1920’s. They were given their rights and whites thought that that was enough. Ever since, African-Americans have fought to be psychologically free. Malcolm X said it best when he realized that the black man were brainwashed by the white man, who cleverly gave the black man enough to where he thought he was making it, but in reality was still under the white man’s boot. Today, that is no longer a problem, having a black president is proof enough. However, the struggle that these brainwashed black people went through is the same problem for modern women in America.
    The seek for perfection can be a tantalizing, but disabling, phenomenon. On one hand, desiring perfection can reap outstanding results, but on the other being forced by media and society to be perfect, as women often are, can cause burn-out. She makes the point that men can mess up, but still retain a position of high leadership. Well women, when they mess up, have a much shorter leash. They have to be perfect the first time, living underneath a much smaller margin of error. This, psychologically, can decimate a women’s desire to overcome at an early age; she may feel the weight of her imperfections, externally implanted, and decide that its not worth it, that she would rather settle down and be a mother than reach for the stars.
    The black race was under the boot of the white man psychologically for a long time. They had to be perfect or the white man would discount them ruthlessly without hesitation, making the black man feel that the best they could do was live underneath the white man’s whims. Women are underneath the boot of implausible expectations and a minimal margin of error. They have to be perfect or society will discount them ruthlessly and without hesitation. Zeilenger, therefore, is correct; millenial women do not want to lead because they cannot satisfy perfection.

  12. While reading Zeilinger’s “Why Millennial Women Do Not Want To Lead”, the point that women need perfection in order to lead is quite clear. Although I do believe that women are put on a high pedestal in terms of what qualifications they need to lead, a lot of this comes from internal concentration on the things they are taught as young girl. Such as the news anchors on the television are stick thin and they are successful, therefor if I want to be successful then i have to do the same. In the back of the minds of these young girls they know that there is no such thing as “perfection” and yet still feel the need to reach this unattainable goal. I do believe men have to face the same expectations of perfection, but they are empowered more as men. They do not get the same hardships from their gender that women do. In some cases, going through these extra hardships could lead to a stronger female leader.
    Another strong point that Zeilinger makes is that women are depicted in the media to be the object of a male’s affection. That women are meant to be physical objects for men to desire. If that is all the media is portraying women to be then that is sending a message out that women need to be perfectly appearing but nothing further than that. If this is how a women is taught to think then she has no reason to ever seek a leadership position. This message is appalling to me. A woman’s worth should not be determined by her appearance. The influence that this has on women in the workforce is unnecessary. If an emphasis was not placed on it by the media then women would be more confident in their potential as a leader.
    Zeilinger goes on in her article to say that media is not the only fault in the lack of female leaders and that the way we treat the women that do choose to put themselves out there and lead is another cause. The example she uses is Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. The media choose to focus on their physical appearance as opposed to their views and ideals. This emphasizes the point of physical appearance being too much of a focus for female leaders or potential female leaders. My reaction to this is that appearance being the focal point of a woman’s leadership is a sad result of society’s expectations. Her stance on these issues sheds some light on why female leaders do not work. They aren’t confident due to media scrutinization and the treatment of women who do have the opportunity to lead.

  13. I agree with this article completely. I think women do have it set in their heads that they feel inadequate in many of aspects of their life especially when it comes to leadership. Because we are behind race for success, we feel we must go even harder to be more successful them men and exceed them by miles. This standard is extremely challenging and often unobtainable. Women feel they have to be perfect and that is a defeating idea because no one can be perfect.
    Another thing I was shocked by but also found believable was the lack of perfection required of men to be in leadership roles. I knew that they had it easier but after reading that a mayor was reelected after cocaine charges shocked and infuriated me. We, as society, worry that a woman is too emotional to lead us and yet, we are okay with being led by a cocaine addict?! I find that disgusting and embarrassing for our society. It is so engrained in us that even a bad male leader would be better than a woman leader. Of course, a man is going to go for leadership roles during his life time. Society will allow him to do anything and still be a leader. This seems extremely contradicting for women trying to enter leadership roles as a “perfect” woman.
    The third claim she made in the article was in regards to looks and how women care so much about them. I was, again, shocked by the statistics. 78% of 17 year old women feel like they are fat. This number is scarily heartbreaking. Society has told us that there is a certain image that all women should try to obtain, which includes perfect, tan skin, silky long hair, long legs, and a rockin’ body. This standard is impossible to much of the women population and a real struggle for almost all of the population. The “perfect” image of a woman is highly sexualized and most likely create by men. This idea of being a perfect woman just makes women inferior to men still and gives them control over women’s success.

  14. I agreed with Zeilinger’s assessment that young women equate leadership with perfection. Being put in a leadership position is frightening, and when you don’t want it in the first place, it suddenly seems like you cannot do anything right. I felt like that in my first leadership position in high school. Not only did I feel like that, but I knew a few other young women who also felt that way. When I left high school, the person replacing me as leader of my academic team was nervous and claimed she would never measure up to me. I hated that. If I didn’t feel like I was good enough sometimes, then she would be a great leader. Perfection seems to be in the eye of the beholder, and young girls never seem to feel perfect enough.

    It was great of Zeilinger to claim that leadership needed to be redefined to prevent this obsession with perfection. However, I think her new redefinition isn’t going to fix the problem she is addressing. The idea of perfection that takes root in adolescence includes being the most intelligent, the trustworthy, honest person. Zeilinger’s new definition is not a new definition. It is just a rewording of the same problem. For me, those are the people that should be leaders, but these traits are just sub-categories of perfection. I think instead of redefining leadership, Zeilinger should had said that perfection needed to be redefined or shunned altogether. A good leader should be a person who can think for him or herself, a person who can learn from mistakes, and provide all information in a timely manner. Leadership should be about developing as a person, not measuring up to a standard and staying static as a personality. Intelligence should not be measured as aptitude, but as critical thinking skills, and analysis skills, with a little bit of judgment thrown in. Mistakes are going to happen with this definition, but mistakes are just opportunities to learn (as has been drilled into the head of every child since 1st grade).

    I also found it interesting that Zeilinger pointed out the “disparity in what we teach our sons as opposed to our daughters.” Most of these lessons are given in the political world. Zeilinger specifically points out how Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin were treated in the 2008 election versus how D.C. mayor Marion Barry was treated. Barry was re-elected, even after spending time in prison for drug charges: and yet Hillary Clinton was ridiculed for not being feminine enough and Sarah Palin was laughed at for being the way too feminine airhead. The most important sentence written by Zeilinger in this part was “men are taught they are entitled to leadership in a way women are not.” Men are entitled to a good thing, and women are not. If leadership is equated to perfection for young women, then it is all the more difficult for them to step up and try to become leaders. If a young woman is not entitled to leadership, and thus perfection, she will never see herself or other women as good enough to become a leader. The viewpoint is, or will become, if you can’t have it anyway, why bother trying to attain it?

  15. I think Julie Zeilinger’s claim that women equate leadership with perfection hits the nail on the head. When we see women in leadership positions, they are held to the highest standards of excellence. They are expected to look perfect, find the balance between being tough and relatable, get all of their work done efficiently, and even then it’s still not good enough. If the slightest detail isn’t thoroughly perfect, women are blamed for their sex. Women are expected to be flawless, whereas men don’t nearly have to be perfect. Men are given multiple opportunities, and even with multiple opportunities, the standards still aren’t held as high for men as for women., especially in leadership positions. Zelinger says, “We need to define leadership not as perfection but s intelligence, honesty, and doing the right thing.”

    Zelinger also made the point that young women are choosing not to lead because there is a “disparity in what we teach our sons as opposed to our daughters.” Whether purposefully or not, boys are taught from a young age to take it easy on girls. As if girls are not as good as boys. Girls then internalize this and believe that they are inferior. So from childhood, girls are learning that they will not be taken seriously, especially by boys. This then carries on into adulthood, and women then choose not to lead because society will not embrace them in the same way as men.

    I also liked the point made about trying to fix the problem. Zellinger said that the difference between men and women leaders was superficially addressed through policies and laws, but the underlying problem was never faced. Society failed to correct, or even recognize, psychological factors that make women not want to lead. I think it is safe to say that these policies were made so that society and government could say that they were encouraging women to lead, but in actuality, they were just used to hide the problem. With laws in place, the government cannot be held responsible for women not leading. They can then pass the buck to individual employers. These were just a way to mask the problem, without actually addressing it. I think the only way to physically fix this problem is to change the attitudes towards women who are leading. The only way to do this is for parents to teach their daughters from a very young age that they are good enough, and that they are capable of leading. Parents also need to teach their sons that women are no different from them, except for biologically, and these biological differences do not make women inferior to men. Granted, I know this process will take a long time, but the changes need to be made in order for women to want to lead. The current generation of people who are so opposed to seeing women in positions of power will soon no longer be the primary influence on younger generations. As this continues to happen, I genuinely believe that we will see a difference in the number of women who will choose to lead.

  16. I think that Julie Zellinger’s article on the reasons why women don’t want to lead was intriguing. It was cool to see that she was only only 19 years old and already to outspoken and successful when it came to women and leadership. I do agree with Zellinger’s claim that by the time were older and are able to have leadership positions, we have it so in our own heads that were never going to be good enough. It is true that girls and women are so heavily influenced by the media. It’s the media’s fault that they are producing images that diminish our bodies and thus negatively impact our self-confidence and self-worth. There are a variety of commercials and ads in today’s media regarding how certain diet pills or how specific make-up with make you the women you’ve always wanted to be. Although it is false, stubborn women with low self-esteem will give into these notions. As a pretty confident young woman, I was taught not to give into the media “bull shit” because it’s just a way people are trying to make themselves feel better and a way for them to make money. By no means do I look like a model, but not many people do. Women need to learn to be comfortable in their own skin, because when you’re confident, it rubs off on other women too, making them feel like they have more of a sense of self-worth.
    As we have read in class earlier this semester, “The Bitch and the Ditz,” Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin were in the 2008 Presidential elections, they were always criticized about their physical appearance and not their competence. This isn’t fair to women because usually they are good leaders, but the media is so focused on their appearance that it takes away from their competence. It’s unfortunate to see that the media does this to successful women, because it gives other women out their reasons why they wouldn’t want to lead, because they fear they will just be criticized for their looks instead of their leading capabilities.
    Another claim Zellinger made was how when you walk into any given middle or high school class setting, the majority of the kids who are raising their ands and answering questions are the boys, as opposed to the girls. Girls fear that they will be seen as inferior and they don’t trust themselves to speak out and are unsure about their opinions. Personally, I have struggled throughout my life with speaking out in class. It’s not because I am a female though. In my college classes, I am equally as unsure of what I have to say when their are strong male AND female opinions in my classes. It’s unfortunate that girls are afraid that what they have to offer to the table is inferior, because honestly what they have to say is correct, but they are jsut too scared of failing.

  17. Zeilinger discusses the reason that women today do not lead as being a lack of self confidence and a desire to be perfect. The stress of doing a job at a level less than perfect deters women from taking on the position. The insecurities that women have take a toll on the women’s sense of self worth in all categories of life. The way one views herself and her work will impact how they lead if they chose to do so.
    I believe that women place a high level of thought into a job before they take it on. No one wants to get into a job that they don’t have enough time for or do not think that they are executing the task effectively. I do not know if this separates men and women though. I feel like men place the same amount of thought into starting a job as well.
    The idea that the way other women in leadership positions are treated by the public can be deterring for women that may desire a job in a masculine career. The example on taking a leadership position in politics is a great one. The way that the media portrayed Clinton and Palin, could make any women rethink their social image and how taking on a leadership position may lead to being scrutinized by the public.
    I know, as a woman, I tend to focus on having things turn out as perfect as possible. I work as hard as I can to balance every task I take on. I cannot say that this is how every woman is, but I do believe that working to achieve ones best work is a desire that leaders do need to have. Intelligence, honesty and doing the right thing are good practices of a leader, and women and men alike should follow these practices.

  18. I thought this article was pretty well written, and had the right idea, although I don’t think she hit quite the right mark. Equating leadership to perfection is certainly something young women do, and certainly something that harms them. However, the problem lies more in the psychology behind how boys and girls are taught. She was right in saying they are fed very different things, and she was right in comparing a girl’s drive for perfection driven by today’s standards, but the perfection piece is only a small percentage of it. The larger problem is that while we changed things on a surface level with laws and policies, we never really changed our society’s views on where men and women “belong.”

    Today, men and women enjoy legally protected equal rights, but that by itself is not enough to promote true equality. We see this disparity because our society’s ideas are still perpetuated behind the scenes (and some very blatantly in the open), and girls are still receiving a message that they belong somewhere other than the business world. The author talks about perfection, but there is also a disparity in domestic roles, a disparity in academic expectations, a disparity in physical expectations, and certainly a disparity in how closely they are scrutinized as leaders. Women do not opt out because they feel they wouldn’t be ABLE to perfect leadership (that seems like enough of a challenge to many type A girls I know to get more women represented than men). Women opt out because we as a society are not encouraging equality. We try, and the words coming out of our mouths preach equality, but our actions and stereotypes are more damaging than we know.

    The things young girls are exposed to are so overwhelmingly one-sided that it becomes almost impossible to teach them anything else. Actions speak much louder than words, and more often than not, a child will mimic what you do, not what you say. When we show our girls that a woman’s place is at home, that her beauty is her most important feature, that she has to be perfect at everything she does, and that her only purpose exists as a piece of the love equation for a man, they are going to believe it. They will learn what society has to show them, and while we talk a big game, these stereotypes and disparities speak for themselves.

    The author also talks about the reaction to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. This is a perfect example of the problems she mentions, because it illustrates how different our expectations of men and women are in all aspects of life, but especially in leadership positions. We do not expect to see those types of women leaders, so when we do, all we can criticize are the things we’ve shown to be important in women. We scrutinize their looks, wonder who’s taking care of the kids, and make comments on their sex appeal as if that had any relevance to their policies or beliefs. This shows girls how they will be judged in anything they do from beauty competitions to politics, and SHOWS them, rather than telling them, that women and men are on very different platforms. What we do echoes far longer than what we say.

  19. I think the idea of perfection is relevant to why young girls choose not to lead. When you take into account that women leaders must walk the line between communal and agentic, and therefore must be the perfect balance between feminine and masculine, I think the idea of perfection is easy to see. The idea of failure is presented so strongly to women, especially women who are seeking leadership positions. Women are made very aware that the chance of their failure is much higher than that of men. Additionally, the idea of self worth in general comes into play. We live in a patriarchy, which by default places more worth on the accomplishment and pure existence of men than it does women. Male’ accomplishments mean more, male actives mean more, a man’s existence means more, and this is what I think is the covert reason that drives the lowering of women’s self image and self esteem. I could talk forever about how this exists in the predominately male produced media wherein women are objects and more humans, but I think that case is pretty blatant.
    Another idea presented by Zeilinger involves the treatment of women who are successful leaders, ones that do go for it. She uses the Clinton-Palin example, which I think is perfect. Both women were diminished to a one characteristic about themselves as women, Clinton Bitch and Palin Floozy. Nothing about their policies or goals are discussed or even thought about in any advertising or reports on either of them. All media focuses on their personal lives and the existence as incomplete women. the fact that they were women was more important than the fact that they were running for an office. Young women see this and lose hope for what they could potentially accomplish.

  20. Julie Zeilinger’s article was very fascinating. It took somewhat of an alternative approach. She explained how disheartening it was for her to see young women be opposed to taking on leadership roles because they felt they had to reach perfection or else they would fail as leaders. Another point she made was that women in the previous generation worked so hard to earn these rights for women and now women are not exercising their right to something that so many women personally sacrificed for. She used Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin as examples as stereotypes that women faced. Although Zellinger’s article was fascinating I personally disagree with her.

    My personal high school experience shows that Zellinger’s claim is not true. In fact we had more women leaders than male. When I was a Junior the Senior, Sophomore, and Freshman class Presidents were all female. Also my senior year I was a SCA officer and three out of four of us were female. I personally think females took on more leadership roles because they were more prestigious than most males at my school. Also students were more likely to vote for the females that ran because of their dedicated to other activities and their studies. Another thing that disagrees with Zellinger’s claim is that the top five students in my graduating senior class were all females.

    I am not saying that Zellinger is wrong. I am just pointing out that I personally have seen a lot more female leadership in my experience. I will say that before I was a senior I lacked their courage to run for a leadership position but seeing so many other young women do it helped me gain the courage to step up and be a leader myself.

  21. I thought it was interesting that a 19-year-old undergraduate student could conjure up such a well thought out argument. Zeilinger is very passionate about her subject and comes across as frustrated not only with societal norms but with women opting themselves out. I like that she discussed one of the main issues of why women opt out: they are pressured to “have it all” or be perfect.

    I think Zeilinger had a well-structured argument that persuaded me to her side. I like how she incorporates statistics into her article that strengthen her view on the issues surrounding women. For example, Zeilinger includes that, “According to the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, 42% of first to third-grade girls want to be thinner. 80% of ten-year-old American girls say they have been on a diet. 53% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies – a number that increases to 78% by age 17.” As I was reading these stats, I was suprised at the overwhelming amount of women that don’t pursue leadership positions due to their physical self-consciousness.

    However, I do not agree with Zeilinger when she states, “Moreover, the media convinces us that we exist for men to sexualize and desire us – we are not the subject of our own lives, but rather the object.” Magazines targeting towards women such as Cosmopolitan show sexualized images of women in order to make women recreate that image. Of course some articles are directed towards pleasuring men, they are not meant for men, but for entertaining women.

    I also disagree with Zeilinger’s comment: “Men are generally taught that perfection is not a necessary component of success, that, in fact, they can fail miserably – even commit felonies — and still bounce back to power.” From personal experiences as a man, I have always been taught that in order to be a great leader you do have to be perfect. I thought this part of her article was irrelevant and I found it hard to take her seriously because she seemed like she wanted to play ‘the blame game.’ Overall, I thought Zeilinger’s article was influential and articulated, but I do not agree with some of the points she makes throughout her argument.

  22. I found this article one of the readings that most captivated me because this was written by a woman my own age rather than someone who is much older than me so when I read it, I was able to relate to it more because it was someone who I knew was influenced by the same things of this generation and hasn’t yet entered the corporate world rather than a female who has.

    What she was saying about perfection is spot on. I think one of the reasons women, and especially younger women, struggle so much is because there is such a demand to be perfect physically, emotionally, and at work. But that’s just not possible and it leads to women building an unattainable goal that when not reached, often causes many women to just give up.

    I liked the way she connected that issue for perfection with the media. I do not think it is the medias fault that women are so critical of themselves and of who they are, but it definitely plays a large role in how they view themselves. I know I’ve caught myself before looking at a picture of a woman on a magazine cover and thinking to myself how I need to start exercising more or should start wearing makeup. But something I’ve noticed is when I’m so focused on myself and my imperfections, I’m less likely to be forward focused and head toward the goal that I have.


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