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Nancy Koehn on BPR, 11/7/2018

Women Made Historic Gains In The Midterms. Could It Reshape American Ideas About Leadership?

Ayanna Pressley
Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., gives her victory speech during an election night watch party in Boston, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Listen
Nancy Koehn on BPR, 11/7/2018

A record number of women will serve in the next Congress after a historic midterm election where over 90 women won seats in the House and 13 more won Senate seats.

Could that dramatic increase reshape American ideas about what leadership looks like? Nancy Koehn, historian at the Harvard Business School, believes so.

She pointed out that many candidates did not shy away from using their lived experiences as women to connect with voters on the campaign trail.

"We know that most of those women that ran did not run solely on their resume," Koehn said.

"They ran with pictures of their kids. They ran on the family issues that they themselves face. They ran on how they were raised. They ran on the whole picture of themselves as people and they won," she continued.

Koehn also pointed to research suggesting that women politicians do, in fact, lead differently than men do. Some studies say women are more likely to collaborate with their peers to get things done, and are more likely to push for legislation that impacts women and families specifically, like in education or healthcare.

"It suggests more collaboration. It suggests more public exposure and articulation of the long-term perspective. It suggests a public interest that is all tied up with ordinary families," Koehn said.

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