It’s been all over the news today, so you’ve probably heard – former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher passed away at age 87. News sources around the world are dredging up some of her most noteworthy acts and lauding her as the strong leader that she was – in spite of being female. The celebration of this tenacious and strong-willed prime minister, combined with the recent success of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, leads to some interesting discussion today about whether it’s possible to be a strong female leader – and the sacrifices for becoming one.
Margaret Thatcher’s Death is Polarizing the World
Many in Britain (and around the world!) are mourning the death of this great lady today. Not everyone is sad to see her go, though – as a strong, willful leader, Margaret Thatcher has made her fair share of political enemies. In fact, she managed to stir up such strong opposition that she faced a failed assassination attempt by the Irish Republican Army in 1984! Not many women can claim to have played such a big role on the international stage.
Thatcher’s death is polarizing people, as her leadership policies in life did. The monarchy announced that Thatcher would receive a state funeral, which prompted an outcry of public protest culminating in an online petition against the state funeral that garnered 33,000 signatures before it was closed. Media sources and private individuals alike are taking her death as an opportunity to rehash political debates and discuss unpopular decisions she made as a leader. Allies, meanwhile, are sending condolences and public support and praise for her life. The rift in public opinion is striking – and may speak to something in Sheryl Sandberg’s new bestseller Lean In.
Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In
Last month, Sheryl Sandberg, successful COO of Facebook, published a book about the difficulties women face in corporate leadership. Sandberg basically said that women are dramatically underrepresented in leadership roles (true!) and that we face cultural impediments to our success in leadership. When men are firm, strong leaders, they’re admired – but when women make similar decisions, they’re characterized as B’s and seen in a very unflattering light.
Her book seeks to shed light on the inequality that women face in leadership roles, and she definitely makes some good points. The fact that women are paid less than men in the same jobs – or the fact that we’re dramatically underrepresented in leadership roles – speaks to the underlying truths that form the basis for her book. (If you haven’t read the book and are interested in gender equality and a modern take on feminism, check it out! It’s on the NYT Best Seller list for a reason!)
Do You Think it’s Possible to be a Strong Female Leader?
With the passing of former PM Margaret Thatcher, and the recent bestselling success and dialogues starting to be opened by Sandberg’s book, what do you think, ladies? Is it possible to be a strong female leader, or are we culturally sabotaged and unable to command the respect that men do in the same roles? Can women be leaders? Are the attitudes we face in leadership roles worth fighting? I, for one, would love to see these sort of attitudes shift and find more women in leadership roles – how close do you think we are?