Whether you're a conservative Republican, a progressive Democrat, an Independent, or a political atheist, if you're a woman, stand proud and salute your own strength and courage. As women - each of us - chipped away at this thick glass ceiling with every choice we made to stand up for ourselves and our beliefs, no matter how big or small. We did it! A woman is finally elected by a major political party as the nominee for President of the United States. Bravo!
Every time a woman applied for a job, accepted a job, applied for a college degree, graduated, held a paid job, volunteered in her community....every step, as Susan B. Anthony said, "is progress."
"The Women Who Have Something to Say"
My Aunt Miriam is smiling from above, while also wondering "what the hell took so long?!" as Miriam Michelson scholar Lori Harrison-Kahan of Boston College wrote me today. Miriam was "one of San Francisco's first female reporters," one of the foremost interviewers of Susan B. Anthony, and used her voice to catapult the California suffrage movement to passage.
Covering the Women's Congress of 1895 in California, Aunt Miriam described it this way: "The favorites of the congress are...the women who have something to say, who are fearless and tactful in saying it, who have minds large enough to realize the prejudice and sentiment against them and to make allowances for them." Sound familiar?!
How We Got Here
It took 29 female presidential candidates (some running multiple times), 313 female members of Congress, thousands of female state and local officials and federal leaders, countless female candidates for local, state and national office and one female Speaker of the House, over 240 years of U.S. history to even nominate a woman for president.
In our economy, women still tend to be promoted on "performance" whereas men tend to be promoted on "potential." So, we had to prove "performance," and we did this via an abundance of data that women business leaders produce better financial results. We also increased the number of women business leaders seen and heard in the media, such as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns.
We've had to feel it through storytelling, which creates a safe space to experience a given cultural shift (as "All in the Family" did for civil rights and "Will and Grace" did for LGBT rights). Today, that is reflected in the increasing number of television/web shows and movies with female leads, especially those with women as political leaders, which helped us experience women in the Oval Office via fiction, from Geena Davis in "Madam President," to Tea Leoni in CBS' current series "Madam Secretary." Novels do this too, from Aunt Miriam's own The Smart Set in 1912 about a society ruled by women, to Madam President by former Bush Communications Director Nicole Wallace, a frequent (candid) commentator on MSNBC.
And, like most political shifts, we've needed to analyze it. Formidable reporters tackled this, including Eleanor Clift's Madam President, Marianne Schnall's What Will It Take to Make A Woman President?, Anne Kornblut's, Notes from the Cracked Ceiling" (about Hillary's 2008 campaign), and the newly-released Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works, by Time magazine White House Correspondent Jay Newton-Small.
Every Woman in the U.S. Played a Role - Big and Small
All of us women who strive to make our lives, families, communities and businesses grow also helped us all become more comfortable with even thinking about women in "the" most powerful and symbolic role.
It took generations of daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts being strong in their own worlds - and voting. It took fathers wanting their daughters to have unlimited options. There's much more to do, but let's savor the moment.
Finally we reached the tipping point when enough people are comfortable enough with the idea of a woman in the Oval Office and as Commander in Chief. To achieve this moment, we needed a female candidate who is unquestionably qualified to be that chair (regardless of partisanship). A man with Hillary's résumé, connections and reputation for competence and intellect would have been elected president long ago.
Better late than never. And, by the way, it's a testament to two important other lessons worth mentioning: It's never too late, and persistence with learning pays off.
This is truly a historic moment - whether or not you like Hillary or vote for her. It's historic for women and for the country. We just took a giant leap towards tapping into the full potential of the American people and the American economy.