Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Women in charge

In some ways, it made no difference whether Hillary Clinton won or lost last night's U.S. presidential election. No one - at least publicly - believes anymore that a woman is incapable of being president.

In some ways, it made no difference whether Hillary Clinton won or lost last night's U.S. presidential election. No one - at least publicly - believes anymore that a woman is incapable of being president.

Donald Trump's attacks against Clinton and other women opposed to him were personal in nature, using their gender as the prod. The evidence is clear that he views women as sex objects and himself as an alpha male deserving of their attention. Trump can be criticized for many things but his past and present record, however, clearly demonstrate his belief women are more than capable holders of the reins of power.

As the PBS Frontline documentary The Choice showed, his handpicked choice as chief builder for Trump Tower was Barbara Res, an unprecedented decision which shocked the male-dominated construction world of New York City at the time. While Res handled the contractors and their union bosses, Trump put Louise Sunshine in charge of sales. He kept the marketing job - his true talent - for himself.

As usual, Trump's views were confusing, even to his lieutenants.

"Donald told me that he thought that men were better than women, especially in this field," Res recalled to Frontline. "But he said a good woman is better than 10 good men. I think he believed that women had to prove themselves more than men, so a good woman would work harder."

And although she wasn't his first choice - Trump fired his first two campaign managers - Kellyanne Conway has managed Trump's march to the White House down the home stretch, the first woman to ever lead a Repbublican presidential nominee's campaign team.

Now the prospect of a woman becoming president is now somewhat anticlimatic, a historical footnote. That doesn't mean it's not significant, particularly for those old enough to remember when the idea of a woman holding any kind of power in the political and business world was openly ridiculed.

That also doesn't mean it's any easier for women to navigate the corridors of power but no one bats an eye anymore to see them there.

Locally, Prince George women have blazed an impressive trail. When Carrie Jane Gray became mayor in 1958, she was only the second woman in B.C. to ever hold that office. The park named in her honour was dedicated in 1966, when she was still active in civic politics, because the community recognized how groundbreaking her accomplishments were.

As a result, no one really thought it was that significant when Shari Green became just the second mayor in Prince George history in 2011. Green was simply following both Gray and a second generation of political women - Shirley Gratton, Anne Martin and Lois Boone immediately spring to mind - that came in Gray's wake.

By the time Green put on the chain of office, there were powerful women everywhere in Prince George - Shirley Bond, Janine North, Baljit Sethi, Cathy Ulrich, Sharel Warrington and Heather Oland, to name a few. Green was surrounded by men on city council but now city council has three women - Susan Scott, Terri McConnachie and Jillian Merrick - all political newcomers. Beth James and Kathleen Soltis are the past and present city managers. Eric Hummel is the CEO of Tourism Prince George.

Here at The Citizen, Colleen Sparrow is the first female publisher of The Citizen and she just named Cheryl Stewart as the newspaper's first director of advertising. At present, Stewart is leading a department that is entirely made up of women. Wind the clock back to 1990, when sales representatives at The Citizen were called salesmen because there were no women.

The numbers game remains important but increasingly less so as women rightly, and to the benefit of all of society, hold more positions of power and prestige more frequently. They are getting there because they are leaders with skill, passion and vision.

They always had these attributes but they are finally receiving their overdue recognition for them.

Even Trump knows of women's potential to be in command. His hiring decisions have shown that. That doesn't mean his precious male ego wanted him to be a different sort of historical footnote, as the first man to lose the presidency to a woman, "nasty," "crooked" or otherwise.

- Managing editor Neil Godbout