Would a Hillary win help or hinder gender balance?

8 November 2016

Would a Hillary win help or hinder gender balance?

Finally, the build-up is at an end.  The people are going to the polls in the most contentious election in US history. 

Dr Claire Collins, Associate Professor of Leadership Development and Behaviour, comments on Hillary Clinton's campaign so far with reference to her successes, failures and the leadership styles she should adopt moving forward. 

"Finally, the build-up is at an end.  The people are going to the polls in the most contentious election in US history.  Many commentators have declared it an election between equally disliked candidates and that Hillary Clinton would only be the lesser of two evils.  Not a great fanfare to the next leader of the free world.

If she is the victor, Hillary Clinton will join other female world leaders, among them, Angela Merkel and our own Theresa May.  Potentially a very powerful trio, and for feminists everywhere, this would represent a huge step forward, certainly in changing the gender balance in the political world. However, would Hillary’s victory help or hinder this cause?

She declares herself a lifelong public servant, and there is no doubt that she has dedicated many years to service at the highest level in the country, initially as first lady at a variety of levels and latterly as a forceful politician in her own right.  She was charged by her husband, Bill, with transforming the healthcare system to allow for free healthcare for those who were unable to pay health insurance.  This was widely derided and she was accused of meddling, as she was in an unelected position. Whatever else, this period identified her political colours.

However, her and her husband’s private lives have been dogged with controversy.  They have been associated with a number of questionable deals, most prominently the Whitewater property scandal and more lately, the emergence of e-mails being held on a private server have exposed potential weakness of judgement.  Perhaps this was her opportunity to show that her leadership is by a better example.

Was Hillary Clinton the only Democratic candidate who could possibly beat Donald Trump?  Were other, more effective candidates passed over for this reason and no other?  It would appear that the United States is desperate for another kind of leader than the establishment types.  However, would anyone describe either candidate as ‘authentic’? She seems to have enjoyed a good reputation as Senator in New York, and following defeat as presidential candidate to Barack Obama in 2008, became his Secretary of State and worked tirelessly in this role, travelling all over the world on foreign assignments. 

What does this suggest about Hillary’s potential leadership as President? How will she address her reputation as inauthentic? 

In order to really tackle this issue, she will need to start immediately with a transformational approach.  Lead from within the White House to create a transparent and open government which stands up to be counted for every decision that is made.  She must lead from the front and put the past behind her, hoping that the American people will be prepared to forgive previous discretions and support a new regime.  She has shown tremendous energy and resilience in her campaign, standing up to the most damaging of affronts to her persona. She will need to draw on this strength again in office to transform herself into a leader that her country deserves.  Can she do it? Will she do it?"

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