How Women Began to Shine in the White House


Just how do women get their voices heard in a testosterone fuelled world? There is plenty of research to show that somehow women’s ideas tend not to get taken seriously until made by a man, or that women do not get due credit for their contributions. None of us want to start behaving like men and not being true to ourselves so how can we be heard?

Well, I’ve written quite a few posts on this topic and even written a course (Speak Up) but there’s always something new to learn. I recently read a fascinating article about how women at the White House solved this problem. In brief, they endorsed and supported each other until the men took notice. They changed the culture. Here’s an extract:

Female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.
“We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” said one former Obama aide who requested anonymity to speak frankly. Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides.

The article, by Clare Lansbaum, points out things have got much better for female staffers in Obama’s second term. There’s an even gender split among his top aides, and half of all White House departments are headed by women.

“I think having a critical mass makes a difference,” White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said. “It’s fair to say that there was a lot of testosterone flowing in those early days. Now we have a little more estrogen that provides a counterbalance.”

Hear, hear to that! Women supporting each other! Try it out and see what happens.

On the topic of women being successful, I am running my hugely successful *RenewYou course in London this November, click here to find out more. I’d love to see you there!

*RenewYou is a great confidence booster, among other things. It’s a fabulous opportunity to take stock and reflect on what you want from the next 12 months. The name says it all – you’ll leave feeling renewed and re-energised after this friendly, relaxed, yet powerful one day course. It’s all about you and what you want from life. If you’re at a crossroads career-wise or personally, or simply want time away from the hurly burly of day to day life to reflect, click the link for my London date. If you’re lucky, you may find that your employer is already using it as part of a diversity programme. It works well alongside other initiatives, or ask them to fund it as part of your CPD.

You can read the White House article in full here.


Posted on September 21st, 2016 by

Leave a Reply

Jane's Book

Paperback or Electronic copy

Free Updates
Simply fill in your details below to get regular updates in your in box. Your details will not be shared – ever.

Connect with me
facebook twitter google+ linkedin RSS