In Her Words
Did Hillary Get the “Girl Job”?
Is Secretary of State about “soft” power?
-Mary Dixie Carter
Did Hillary Clinton get the “girl job?” That’s what some in the media have been saying.
They note that three out of the last four appointees for the position of Secretary of State -Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and now Hillary – have been women. Colin Powell, the only guy in the group, though respected, had limited influence. They maintain the position is now only about “soft power.” Men still get picked when it comes to quantitatively-demanding jobs like Secretary of the Treasury, or testosterone-heavy ones like Secretary of Defense.
But before buying into the carping, let’s remember that Secretary of State is a higher-ranking cabinet secretary than Treasury Secretary or Secretary of Defense, both in line of succession and order of precedence. Naming it a girl’s job now is bait and switch. Of course, I believe that peacemaking comes more naturally to women. But, as women, we should be pleased that, in recent years, that’s become self-evident. Finally, Obama’s whole campaign emphasized “soft power,” and one imagines his administration will do the same. (You can call that feminine, masculine, or just a good idea.) The position of Secretary of State will probably be elevated even more than in the past, because it’s what the President-elect values.
Also, considering how the Arab world views women, the choice of a woman for our top diplomat is not necessarily the path of least resistance — even though Madeleine Albright has pointed out that, when it came to sexism, she had more difficulty with American men than she did with men in the Middle East.
Yes, we have an overwhelming amount of work to do appointing and electing female leaders. But that’s a separate issue and not a reason to diminish the Secretary of State.
And besides Hillary is a rock star. She has an enormous power base and has been on the front pages for nearly twenty years. I think as the world’s most important diplomat she will continue to make headlines and make women — and men — proud. Don’t you?
What do you think about Secretary of State being a “girl’s job”?