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ASU business dean assesses potential impact of female president

W. P. Carey School Dean Amy Hillman in front of McCord Hall

Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

November 01, 2016

As Nov. 8 nears and Americans decide who will move into the White House in January, the average of national polls has shown a consistent lead for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Despite the signs of tightening and turbulence in the final week, pollsters have indicated that the Republican candidate faces a tough battle to overcome his Democratic challenger.

With that in mind, Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, gives her take on what the election of the first female U.S. president would mean for women and the country. Hillman has been a frequent observer of and analyst on the topic of female leadership.

Question: How would you describe the impact of a first female president?

Answer: Nothing short of glass-ceiling shattering. We've said for years women could be at the top of corporations and they've led other nations, but not ours. This is a clear signal that women can reach the pinnacle. Her election as president will inspire other women that their dreams are possible.

Q: What challenges is Hillary Clinton likely to face because she is female?

A: She's likely to bear the brunt of biases against women. Some will expect her emotions to cloud her judgement, hate her for her intelligence, and fight against her positions and policies purely because of her gender and their own stereotypes against women and their bigotry.

Q: How might her presidency be different?

A: Stereotypically, women are more nurturing and consensus oriented. If Hillary is able to bring these qualities to the presidency, she may be able to return our nation to one of respect for diversity of thought and compromise in an effort to advance the nation.

Q: Do you expect her election to affect the lives of women working in the business world?

A: Yes. Many will be inspired that this limit has been lifted. She could work for faster advances for women in the corporate world and equal pay for equal work. But working women may also see her bearing the brunt of biases against women. To the degree that this takes hold, particularly in the media, they too may feel these effects if they become more socially acceptable.

Q: Some imagined a post-racial world after Barack Obama was elected. Can you imagine a post-gender or at least less gender-focused world with a Clinton presidency?

A: I can imagine it, but I'm skeptical. Gender relations could take a step backwards as race relations have following Obama's election. If she steps up as a leader for all, a compromise seeker and gets things done, we could see a less gender-focused world as a result. But if she's stifled by her opponents, compromise continues to be impossible and the vitriolic messages of the campaign continue, we may see just the opposite.

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