“Women must learn to play the game as men do,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. In her new book, Thinking About Leadership, Princeton professor Nan Keohane takes 34 pages to discuss whether gender makes a difference. As the former president of Wellesley and Duke, she concluded that one’s ability to maintain gender-based leadership qualities depends on the job. “Even though my leadership of Wellesley or Duke may have had a slightly more inclusive flavor than is typical of such offices, I soon learned that the necessity of getting things done, dealing with varied interests and personalities, and perspectives, and making tough decisions and moving on brought me to lead in ways that were generally quite similar to how male leaders of such institutions perform.”
In her “Does Gender Make a Difference?” chapter she discusses some of the great women leaders in history: Hatshepsut , Elizabeth I, Jane Addams, Margaret Thatcher, Katharine Graham, Michelle Bachelet , Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , and Angela Merkel.
The careers of Addams and Eleanor Roosevelt, says Keohane, “exhibited pragmatism and idealism and combined deep moral conviction about their mission with administrative abilities.” But in 1935 Roosevelt published an article on why women were not ready to run for high office; “they had not learned to build networks or become organized. She argued that women ‘should come up from the bottom and learn their jobs in public life, step by step, and above all they must learn to take other women with them.’ In 1936 she wrote that women in politics must be ready to ‘stand up and be shot at,’ and ‘all women in public life needed to develop skin as touch as rhinoceros hide.'”