Author Linda Tarr-Whelan unveiled her new book, “Women Who Lead the Way”, at a recent congressional briefing. Under the shadow of the Capitol dome, she explained her “30% solution” to problem-solving and decision-making.
When women occupy 30% of any entity setting policy, they can influence the agenda, affect priorities, and bring their own particular skill set to both the framing of issues and their resolution. This is the tipping point in gender-balanced leadership. Its consequences are evident in politics, business, non-profit management, academia, and other contexts. With 30% female leadership, the political agenda can be transformed. Changes in our national priorities, as well as the allocation of our national resources, would be realized. An entirely different approach would come to bear, not just on the act of problem solving, but on the selection of the problems to be solved.
In the political realm, women’s influence is seen in policy shifts pertaining to tax, health care, child welfare, employment law, and domestic violence legislation, to name a few. In the world of business, greater involvement of women in management correlates to highter profits and greater productivity. Additionally, decision-making begins to reflect consensus by partnerships, teams, and more 21st century collaborative management styles.
Congresswoman Rosa de Laura and Senator Mary Landrieu also took the podium, pointing out that a nation cannot succeed if it leaves half its talent pool out in the street. Our competitiveness on a global stage, our national security, and our economic stability all depend on the integration of women into leadersip positions. Women’s equitable access to power and influence in all aspects of our national life is a fundamental human rights issue with signifcant ramifactions for American society.
At present, women constitute 17% of the US Congress, about 22% of state legislatures, 14% of corporate boardmembers, and 20% of non-profit directors. In the past 15 years, the US has fallen from 45th place to a current 69th place in terms of female representation in a national legislative body. The nation with the most women in parliamentary office is Rwanda.
You’ve come a long way, baby. But not nearly far enough!