Editorial: We need more women in leadership


Governor Kim Reynolds speaks during the Roast and Ride fundraiser on June 3 in Boone, Iowa.

Editorial Board

Last week marked Wendy Wintersteen’s first day as Iowa State’s president. It was a first for the university as well — with a female president at the helm for the first time in its history. 

Across many industries — from technology, to politics, to academia or science — women are often underrepresented. And they are certainly misrepresented as leaders in these industries. 

Women bring in new perspectives and viewpoints men may not bring to the table. Likewise, women in leadership attract other women to enter the fields where they are underrepresented. 

The reason women aren’t in leadership is in many ways due to societal norms. If we want to fix the problem, we need to make sure all industries are inclusive to women in their culture.

This goes beyond just ensuring sexual harassment and sexual misconduct don’t occur — although we are seeing now more than ever just how big of a problem this is. All people should be able to come to work and do work in an environment that is comfortable for them and allows them to advance based on their own merit and ability. Hostile behavior cannot be tolerated.

A positive culture also means not resorting to stereotypical ideals about women — such as fulfilling secretarial duties — and welcoming their ideas and work in all fields. Women in underrepresented fields face microaggressions like men being viewed as more competent science students despite any grounding for that view, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

The cultural shift isn’t just needed at the workplace. We need to teach young people professional success should be based on merit and work ethic, there are not certain jobs meant for men or women. 

In her book “Women Who Don’t Wait in Line,” Reshma Saujani says women should be “unapologetically ambitious.” Saujani discusses the way girls and women view failure, which many times can be different than boys and men, and encourages girls and women to try again after failing. 

Equality of the sexes can only happen when girls and young women can dream of being anything they want because they see someone like them in a place of leadership. This doesn’t mean putting women in roles simply because they are women. It means creating environments which empower women and girls to be successful. If we do, women will find their ways to leadership roles.