Prove It Again, Hillary


In What Works for Women at Work:  Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know, Joan C. Williams lists four situations that working women face:

  1.  Prove-It-Again! is exactly what it sounds like:  women have to prove themselves over and over again much more so than men in order to be seen as equally competent.  Prove-It-Again! is descriptive bias that stems from assumptions about the typical woman.

  2. The Tightrope is prescriptive bias, which stems from assumptions about how women should behave.  The Tightrope describes a double bind:  women often find that if they behave in traditionally feminine ways, they exacerbate Prove-It-Again! problems; but if they behave in traditionally masculine ways, they are seen as lacking social skills.

  3. The Maternal Wall consists of both descriptive bias, in the form of strong negative competence and commitment assumptions triggered by motherhood, and prescriptive bias — disapproval on grounds that mothers should be at home or working fewer hours.  Women with children are routinely pushed to the margins of the professional world.

  4. The Tug of War occurs as each woman tries to navigate her own path between assimilating into masculine traditions and resisting them.  . . .   Women’s different strategies often pit them against each other, as do workplaces that communicate that there’s room for only one woman.

    I want to talk tonight about Prove-It-Again!  This handicap is due, in part, as studies show, to the fact that men are judged on their potential and women are judged on their achievement.  It also turns out, again, according to research, that what’s important for a given job is whatever the male candidate has.  Studies show that if the male candidate has more education, people (both men and women) rank education as the most important factor for the job.  When the male candidate has more experience, people (both men and women) rank experience as the most important factor for the job.  Similarly, again, according to research, objective requirements are applied more strictly to women and more leniently to men.

But the bottom line is that women must, over and over, prove that they deserve a given job  in ways that men never have to.

We see this today in the demands that Secretary Clinton must “prove” herself to Senator Sanders’ supporters.  Very recently, Senator Sanders re-asserted that it won’t be his job to get his supporters to vote for Secretary Clinton; it will be her job to make enough concessions to woo them.  (We’ll insert here the obligatory note that, when Senator Clinton lost to Senator Obama, she conceded gracefully, begged her followers to support him (I was there, shook her hand, and heard her say it), and then campaigned non-stop for him.  And that Senator Sanders’ refusal to do the same is sexist.)

Secretary Clinton started out the campaign to the left of Senator Sanders on, for example, gun control.  And, as her support from women and people of color demonstrates, she’s to his left on “getting” their issues.  And, whether you believe that he has “dragged” her to the left or that his campaign has opened up room for her to express her own leftist positions, she has moved significantly to the left over the course of this campaign on issues such as the TPP, minimum wages, the Keystone XL pipeline, expansion of Social Security, and the need for young Americans to graduate debt-free from college.

But the most prominent woman in America is still subject to Prove-It-Again bias.

Gif found here.


One response to “Prove It Again, Hillary

  1. Jane Gagle-Bennett

    She gives a great foreign policy speech, full of substance yet still hard hitting against Trump, yet it isn’t good enough for Charles Pierce who’s upset because she’s too hawkish? Walking on a tightrope wearing high heels and playing tug of war, but if anyone can do that, she can.

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