On the Millennium Trilogy

The Magnetic Polarizing Woman

By Sandra Yingling, Ph.D.

“Who does she think she is?” This indignant question is frequently leveled at women in powerful roles in sports, the military, academia, business, or politics. Super-strong tennis star Venus Williams fought for, and won, the right for Wimbledon champions of both genders to earn the same prize money, despite a great deal of pressure from tradition-soaked tennis institutions. General Ann Dunwoody, the first American woman to become a four-star general, began her peerless military career at a time when army polls suggested that the best role for a female soldier was “cook.” Dean and now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, a brilliant legal scholar, endured pointless and absurd speculation about her sexuality during her Supreme Court nomination process, with journalists and pundits parsing the meaning of whether she ever sat with crossed legs. Indra Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsico and one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women,” insists on running her company using her own rules, even if treating employees like extended family members is frowned upon and considered a weakness in her leadership style by traditional business leaders. Hillary Clinton, currently secretary of state–but really, no description is necessary–has spent a lifetime carefully navigating toward positions of greater power while trying to avoid a recurring obstacle that threatens to sink her impressive abilities: being perceived as unlikeable. In her roles of presidential candidate or secretary of state, Clinton is described as “angry” or “shrill,” while her male counterparts are characterized as “resolute” or “impassioned.” In forging their unique careers,  …

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