10 Fields Where the Glass Ceiling Isn't Even Cracked


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President of the United States
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be the one to end the all-male fraternity of U.S. presidents. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

India had Indira Gandhi. Israel had Golda Meir. The United Kingdom had Margaret Thatcher. And Germany has Angela Merkel. Yet in the U.S., no woman has ever held the highest elected office in the land: president. Not only that, but no woman from one of the two major parties has even been on the final ballot. Few have even tried since the country was born (a total of just nine between 1872 and 1999), although there has been much more movement in the last few decades — for instance Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Carol Mosley Braun, Elizabeth Dole and Michelle Bachman all ran in the 21st century [source: Center for American Women and Politics].

Most Americans (73 percent) actually feel there will be a female president during their lifetimes, according to a 2015 Pew Research poll. It might be a good thing for the nation. Research shows that when women are at the helm of countries that are ethnically diverse, there's a 6.8 percent increase in GDP (gross domestic product) compared to when men are in power. The reason, researchers say, is that female leaders are more inclusive of others and cooperative.

Nevertheless, a separate 2015 Pew Research survey found that nearly 40 percent of Americans believed the reason there hadn't been a female president yet is because women are held to higher standards than men and that voters simply weren't ready to elect a female leader [sources: Kent, Hill].

Author's Note: 10 Fields Where the Glass Ceiling Isn't Even Cracked

I'll never forget the day I took my younger daughter into the pediatrician. It was the mid-1990s, and she was about 5. The doctor asked if she thought she might want to be a doctor one day, and she replied, "You mean a nurse. Boys become doctors and girls become nurses." Thankfully, he immediately corrected her and said girls could become doctors, too. But it was certainly an eye-opener for me. At that point in time, there were plenty of female doctors in the U.S., and there was much chatter about the fact that girls could do whatever boys could, and vice versa. Where in the world did my daughter get the notion that only guys could become doctors?

Apparently it didn't matter that gender equality was much talked about. In practice, the vast majority of doctors — including ours — were male. Ditto with mechanics, dentists, garbage collectors and a whole host of other professions. I hope by the time I have granddaughters, they won't have any concept of gender being linked to jobs.

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