Why we need more women leaders

Preface. Hector Garcia makes the case that women make better leaders in an excerpt from his book below. His conclusion is that “scientific literature shows that when women are allowed greater political and economic power, which is inseparable from the power to control their own reproduction, quality of life measurably improves for everyone.”

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer, Barriers to Making Algal Biofuels, and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Collapse Chronicles, Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report


Garcia, H. 2019. Sex, Power, and Partisanship. How evolutionary science makes sense of our political divide.  Prometheus.

Historically, men have blocked women from the political process.  It was only recently that women were allowed a voice in US politics—the 19th amendment to the constitution, which granted women equal voting rights, was granted in 1920.  Saudi Arabia was the last nation to give women the right to vote in 2015.

Scholars have observed that women entering political leadership positions often display excessive hawkishness, which may help to establish themselves within the male primate hierarchy that politics has always been.  But most women across all levels of society are less hawkish.  A large body of research shows that women citizens are les likely to support the use of military force.  Research has found that when the ratio of women in legislatures increases, nations are less likely to use military force to solve conflicts with other nations.

Looking at 22 nations from 1970 to 2000 it was found that as the number of women legislators increased, nations were less likely to engage in an extensive list of conflict behaviors with other nations, such as threats, sanctions, demands, or actual military engagements.  The researchers also calculated Right-Left orientation of nations based on the percentage of government seats that parties held. As we might expect, Right-oriented nations spent more on defense overall.  But as the percentage of women legislators increased, defense spending decreased.  This decrease occurred at the same rate across nations that were Right-oriented, such as the U.S., and those that were Left-oriented, such as Norway, and the results were quantifiable.  In 2000, every 1% increase in women legislators in the U.S. produced a $314 million reduction in defense spending (out of $311 billion in total military spending). A 1% increase in women legislators in Norway saw a $3.34 million decrease out of $3.3 billion.

In 2008 Rwanda became the first nation in history to have a female majority in parliament. The shift of power to women resulted in laws to limit make sexual control. Domestic violence became illegal, and harsh prison sentences were legislated for rape.  Further, birth rates and maternal mortality dropped, doors were opened for women to own land and open bank accounts, daughters were allowed to inherit property, and the percentage of women in the labor force surged.  In 2009, the women-led government mandated basic education for all Rwandan children.  In 2016, the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap report ranked Rwanda fifth in the world on gender equality.  The U.S. ranks 45th.

Before male competition destroyed 20% of Rwandan males in the genocide, it oppressed Rwandan women. In the years leading up to the massacre, women lived under patriarchal control. Women’s property ownership was practically unheard of, literacy among women was low, and maternal mortality was high.

A clear conclusion of the scientific literature is that when women are allowed greater political and economic power, which is inseparable from the power to control their own reproduction, quality of life measurably improves for everyone.

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5 Responses to Why we need more women leaders

  1. Cynic says:

    Having worked in a office where the management was almost entirely in the hands of women, I am somewhat unconvinced.

    Those who love power over their fellows, and wealth, are almost the same, male or female.

    In that office, the senior women selected weak and compliant males for lower management, and were themselves generally rather shifty and devious (The Guardian newspaper, by the way!).

    I also found the same problem at New Scientist….

    The dynamics are different, of course, but I do not see any more hope in a world ruled by women.

    The bullying and power gaming was more subtle but still there.

    The important thing is the quality of the people, not their sex.

    • energyskeptic says:

      I’m talking about heads of state, not office politics, and of course the person, not their sex matters. But women do have a different biology than men, and been crushed since hunter gatherer times in what they were allowed to do, so it is amazing that there have been women rulers at all. Throughout history women have cared more about their families than themselves, and helped one another out, and 95% or more of jails are filled with men, not women. They are less violent, better language skills, more likely to negotiate than attack and so on. And as leaders, on the whole, throughout history, they cared more about their people than trying to get rich from holding office. I recommend “The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire: by Jack Weatherford. A blurb: Though the prolific Genghis Khan fathered numerous sons and daughters, historians have dutifully recorded the foibles and follies of his male heirs while virtually ignoring the accomplishments of his female offspring. Weatherford seeks to remedy this glaring omission by providing a fascinating romp through the feminine side of the infamous Khan clan. Surprisingly, old Genghis himself seems to have been impressed enough by the leadership abilities of his womenfolk to want to reward some of them with pieces of his vast empire. At least four of his daughters became queens of their own countries, exercising power over their courts, their armies, and, of course, their families. Important linchpins in the Mongol Empire, these women supplied the balance of power necessary to appease fractious tribes and territories. Unfortunately, soon after Genghis Khan’s death, the female rulers were challenged by their male relatives, and the fragile bonds that held the Mongol Empire together quickly disintegrated. Ironically, it wasn’t until the emergence of a new queen, two centuries later, that the once-mighty Mongol nation was reunited. Let’s hear it for the girls.

  2. Venkataraman Amarnath says:

    When the British lost their hold in America, they shifted their power to colonize India. All the kings of small kingdoms kissed their feet so they could retain their rule under the dominance of the British. But not two queens, Rani of Jhansi and Kittur Chennamma. Both were great warriors. They fought valiantly in the battle field and went down as free rather than live as slaves to the British. (tears). You can read about them in Wikipedia.

  3. hugh owens says:

    I would entirely agree with this blog post and it seems entirely obvious if we are talking about political leaders particularly. Women are entirely underrepresented in for example the congress. For example, Only 8 % of Republican members are female! Old white men who surround themselves with other old white men is a toxic mix. I should recommend a gripping book by Lynne Olson detailing the amazing female leadership of one of the largest French Resistance groups “Alliance” in WW2: Marie Madeleine Fourcade. She was a brilliant strategist as well as courageous, charismatic and should I mention, young and beautiful!

  4. vimingok says:

    The biggest genocide and land grab in human history occurred under two female monarchs of W Europe. The Victorian era was a period when billions of Indians, Malayans and Chinese were either directly killed or subjected to conditions that immiserated them and condemned them to early deaths.

    I agree that the oppressed are likely to sympathise with the oppressed, thus should be in charge of running the world. The vast majority of women currently living have more of a stake in building an equitable, sustainable world system relative to their male counterparts. It’s because the current world system oppresses them more than men, not because of innate feminine tenderness which is itself a male invention created for the benefit of men.