Why Does the U.S. Still Have so Few Women in Leadership?

Photo by Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images.

So many women have been made to feel that something is wrong with them simply because they are female. Women have been made to feel less than, unimportant, and second-class. As women, we have doubted our self-worth, self-knowledge and self-authority, all in the name of patriarchy.

God the Father. Jesus, Son of God. Allah. Buddha. Brahma.

With a man "at the top" of every major world religion, is it any wonder women and girls feel less than worthy? Whether we consider ourselves religious or not, this male spiritual leadership holds immense power in our cultural consciousness.

I personally did not grow up in a religious household, but I most certainly absorbed the idea that "God the Father" was at the helm. As a young girl in school, every day I pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, embedding into my consciousness the mantra: "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

At my brother's guitar recitals, I joined in the sing-alongs, cheerfully clapping and singing: "He's got the whole world in His hands. He's got the whole world in His hands. He's got the whole world in His hands . . ."

I often wonder, what if I grew up every day pledging my allegiance to one nation under Goddess, or Mother God? What if I instead were singing, "She's got the whole world in Her hands. She's got the whole world in Her hands . . ."

And what if boys grew up this way too?

I am not suggesting that we all need to reassign our spiritual devotion to the Goddess. What I am suggesting is that if we, as individuals and as a culture, see "God" and refer to God only in male terms, being a man or being a boy will remain more "Godlike" or "Divine" than being a woman or girl. This, in my opinion, is real setback when it comes to women's leadership.

As it stands now, masculinity and maleness are the standard by which we measure things. With a male orientation to God, masculinity and maleness have become synonymous with holding the ultimate authority and having power to exercise that authority. Femininity and femaleness, by default, have taken on the quality of being of lesser value, second-class, and, most definitely, of lesser authority.

When seen in this light, it becomes pretty obvious why we women are working so hard, yet still struggling to gain leadership status within our workplace, government, media, law, and very specifically, our religious communities (unless we are in a feminine-based community).

According to a study by FairVote, if we continue at the rate we are going in the United States, it will take 500 years for women to have parity in political leadership.

In business, it's no secret that women also lag substantially behind. Women represent just 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs; just 12.4 percent of executive officers in the financial services industry; and only 14 14 percent of senior management positions in Silicon Valley startups.

This is all happening while women are earning almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees, and 60 percent of all master's degrees. So there is certainly no lack of qualification on the part of women.

Our national spiritual orientation toward a male God explains why women would have so much self-doubt around our qualifications and ability to be leaders. For instance, take what's going on in our careers. A study done a few years ago by Hewlett Packard revealed that men were happy to apply for a job promotion if they met 60 percent of the job qualifications, while women were tending to apply only if they met 100 percent of the qualifications.

Pretty telling, isn't it?

Living in a paradigm where men and the masculine are seen as the rightful owners of authority, and women and the feminine are the underclass, it's no wonder that so many women second-guess themselves, their qualifications, and their voice in the world.

Even Hillary Clinton, who is an incredibly accomplished woman with a dedication to the rights and empowerment of women and girls, has time and time again dampened her voice and betrayed her authenticity to make it in the patriarchal game.

I have often wondered how all of our lives might be different if every girl and boy learned about the 25,000-year history of the Goddess that existed before the onset of patriarchy, and how we would feel if our spiritual leader was depicted as a woman and referred to as a "She."

Would we feel any different? Would women and girls value themselves more and feel a rightful ownership of their authority? Would women and girls speak out more and inhabit more space in the halls of power? Would women and girls be proud of their bodies, proud of their voices and self-confident simply because they were female?

Not enough women, myself included, have honored our feminine authority and world view. We have underestimated the importance of our values, our belief systems and our vision for the future.

Learning about the Goddess, I believe, can change this for us.

Knowledge about her story gives us a new vantage point, one that legitimizes female power and honors feminine authority. It helps us call into question our current social system, and gives a framework for understanding our experience. It also provokes a reconsideration of the roles of women in society.

Perhaps most importantly, the Goddess provides a very different image of womanhood than that which is offered by male-oriented religions of today and heals the deep wound within us that tells us we are unworthy.

When we learn about this part of our human story, we begin to question our culture's ingrained view that all legitimate power is male. Maybe then, we can speed up the rate of progress for women's rights and advancing more women in leadership. Maybe even for President.

On May 7th in Los Angeles, Tabby Biddle will be speaking on the topic of "The Rise of the Goddess." Get tickets here.