I sat down with Hillary Clinton in October for an exclusive interview for my book, “Broad Influence How Women Are Changing the Way America Works.”
We talked about how she’s running differently this time around as a female candidate than in 2008, how she’d govern differently as a woman, her female political role models and how she’s been at the forefront of women reaching critical mass and making a difference almost her entire career.
Below are edited excerpts from that interview.
You’ve been on the national stage and the public eye since 1992, have you seen sexism change over the years?
Well, there still is a double standard, there’s no doubt about that. I see it all the time where women are just expected to combine traits and qualities in a way that men are not. And it does make running for office for a woman a bigger challenge. It’s hard for anybody, but I do think that women bear that extra burden. And I think that the sexism is maybe less pronounced, less obvious but it still is prevalent in our political scene and in our culture and as a result people do say things and use language that have implicit biases about women in public life that demonstrate persistence sexism. And you just have to grow a thick skin as one my favorite Americans, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, and carry on.
Running now versus in 2007, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told me that you’ve overcome the toughness/likability test, have you felt that?
I sure hope she’s right. You know, having served as Secretary of State for four years, I think a number of people give me high marks for that and that’s factored into views for my qualifications for president. So I’m hoping that when you take all my experiences, and my preparedness to be president that people will see it as I see it: that I am the best qualified person to hold the job at this time. Both because what I have been through but also because of the policies I promote and the vision that I have for the country.
Any particular foreign leader whose executive stewardship you admire and might want to emulate as president?
Well, I have to say that I highly admire Angela Merkel. I’ve known Angela since the 1990s, she and I actually appeared on a German TV show together. I have spent personal time with her. She is, I think, a really effective strong leader and really right now the major leader in Europe, not just in Germany. I admire her political skills and her principles, her strong work ethic. I just find her to be an incredibly important person in the world today and I look to her to see how she’s managed it.
Do women govern differently than men?
I think that there are certain issues that we are more attuned to one of the things that I did in the State Department is increase resources to cases involving child abductions, trying to do more to promote international adoptions where appropriate. I just think there are some areas where our own life experiences really prepare us to be more receptive. I do think there is something in the governing or organizing approach. I just think women in general are better listeners, are more collegial, more open to new ideas and how to make things work in a way that looks for win-win outcomes. That has been my experience.
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As president would you govern differently as a female president than a male president?
I do. I do, Jay. I think that my life experiences, what I care about, what I’ve been through just make me perhaps more aware of and responsive to a lot of the family issues that people are struggling with whether it’s affording child care or looking to get their incomes up because everything is increasing in cost. I really do feel that my preparation for being president puts me very strongly on the side of helping American families and that’s at the core of my campaign.
This is an excerpt from TIME Magazine correspondent Jay Newton-Small’s new book “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works,” out January 5 and available here on Amazon. The book looks at the areas in the workforce where women are reaching critical mass—typically between 20-30 percent—and how they’re changing the way we govern, manage, adjudicate and command.
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