Loop21 blogger Keli Goff examines the competitive dynamic among women. She says that while women are threatened by one another, men see an opportunity when both rise in a situation. Women must come to that way of thinking in order to become more politically empowered, she says.
While it would be easy to dismiss the opposition of these women among women as being partisan-based, it's not that simple. It was noted during the panel discussion on female leadership at the Women in the World Summit (a panel that featured Gloria Steinem and Jill Abramson of the New York Times, among others), that while Hillary Clinton enjoyed support from women over 50 during the 2008 election, she trailed behind two male opponents for the support of younger women (Barack Obama and John Edwards respectively.) Polls showed that Sarah Palin's favorability numbers were always higher among men, even before her personal baggage and struggle to answer questions about her reading habits came to light. At some rallies headlined by Palin during the height of the 2008 presidential campaign the gender ratio in the crowd reportedly skewed 70% male to 30% female.
"If you look at Sarah Palin, men supported Sarah Palin more than women did," said Anne Kornblut who covered the 2008 elected for the Washington Post. She added, "Women also look at women's appearances and judge them just the way men do and sometimes more harshly … I think women are critics across the board in ways you may even consider sexist if you didn't know who was saying it."
Tiffany Dufu, President of the White House Project, a non-profit organization committed to increasing female leadership at the highest levels, including the White House, was more succinct. "Yes, female voters are tougher on female candidates. Male voters are tougher on them too. Any individual who does not fit the leadership status quo has to meet a higher bar."
Read Keli Goff's entire blog entry at Loop21.
Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.