In my reaction to Brittany Bayles, I highlighted a few famous women rulers and explained why it was so reprehensible that Ms. Bayles was under the impression that women can't be good rulers. Nicholas Kristoff has done one better. While I'm not sure he read the letter from Brittany, he cites some solid reasons why women aren't as successful in democracies as they are in monarchies:
In monarchies, women who rose to the top dealt mostly with a narrow elite, so they could prove themselves and get on with governing. But in democracies in the television age, female leaders also have to navigate public prejudices — and these make democratic politics far more challenging for a woman than for a man.He goes on to explain the effects of female quotas for village heads in India, where women, from an objective standpoint, did a measurably better job at running the villages than men, and yet, because of longstanding cultural prejudices, were judged to be worse.
I believe that in my own career I am working to erase these sorts of prejudices. I am certainly capable of the work I do, and I do a good job. I am not self-effacing, because if I don't stand up for myself, no one else is going to do it. I approach my work from a gender neutral perspective. Many people who know me in person would call me outspoken, and I'm proud of that. I'm quick to point out when people are engaging in discriminatory behavior. Sometimes this makes for discomfort--for example, when I speak my mind at dinners with my parents who are much more conservative than I am. But if I can change someone's mind about the abilities of women, it's worth it.