Redefining power

Tina Brown: What happens when women stop leading like men

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern greets a first responder during a visit to the Justice and Emergency Services precinct on March 20, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Can women save the world? The evidence is becoming harder and harder to ignore, writes Tina Brown, founder of Women in the World, in a New York Times op-ed published on Sunday. Comparing the conscientious power of leaders from Nancy Pelosi to Jacinda Ardern with the calamitous antics of Robert Kraft, R. Kelly and that “tangerine toddler in the White House,” Brown makes the case that, day after day, women are showing how “a new paradigm of female leadership” can bring a sense of stability to our turbulent world.

“It’s past time for women to stop trying to cram themselves into outdated NASA spacesuits designed for an alien masculine physique,” argues Brown — an allusion to the U.S. space agency’s recent cancellation of the first all-woman spacewalk because of a shortage of spacesuits that would properly fit one of the women. The fiasco was a reminder, she writes, that women can pursue a form of female leadership that’s not founded on “traditional male paths of ejaculatory self-elevation.”

The recent examples of such leadership have been striking. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has led her country through one of its worst crises with awe-inspiring humanity and poise. In her interview with R. Kelly, CBS anchor Gayle King maintained an astonishing level of composure while the flailing singer ranted and raged just inches away. And Democratic presidential candidate Stacey Abrams — who will appear at the Women in the World Summit — recently stood firm when it was suggested she run as Joe Biden’s vice president, saying, “You don’t run for second place.”

This accumulation of instances in which women respond to challenges with grace and compassion has put on full display what a world led by women could look like.

“A woman’s wisdom comes, in part, from the great juggle of her life,” writes Brown. “Until very recently, that kind of wisdom was banished to folkways or deprecated as secondary. But as women step into their new roles, the value of that wisdom is beginning to emerge in unexpected ways.”

The 10th annual Women in the World Summit will take place in New York, April 10-12. Learn more here, and buy your tickets here.

Read the full op-ed at the New York Times.

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