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John Gerzema

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Would Government Be Shut Down if Women Ruled the World?

Posted: 10/01/2013 4:47 pm

We didn't think they would do it but they did: The Government shut down begins. And while politicians continue to play the blame game, 800,000 federal workers are furloughed and Yosemite National Park is celebrating its 123rd birthday with a Google Doodle and a sign that says, "closed."

And as the nation watched Senator Ted Cruz read, "Green Eggs and Ham" in Congress last week, it came as little surprise that according to The Huffington Post, 69% of people believe that the GOP is acting like, "spoiled children."

In both parties there's far more disputation than legislation. And that's why, according to Politico, Democrats have turned to enlisting women as candidates in traditionally red states to run against Republican men. Their polling data says that Americans "think women will be more likely to get down to business, more likely to work together to find a solution and more likely to work on what will affect people's lives as opposed to posturing and grandstanding."

These sentiments are reinforced in our data. In research for our book, The Athena Doctrine, a global study of 64,000 people, 76% of people said "it would be good if there were more women in leadership positions in government", while 62% felt that "if there were more women in power, society would be more fair."

Surprisingly, men are nearly as frustrated as women: 54% of men in America said they were "dissatisfied with the conduct of men in my country", including 79% of men in Japan and South Korea. And nearly two-thirds of people around the world--including the majority of men--feel that the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. This includes 76% of people in France and Brazil, and 70% of people in Germany.

Since men have dominated almost every human endeavor for all of recorded human history, it's safe to say that our polling respondents would blame them first for leadership failures that lead people to pessimistic about the state of the world and its immediate prospects, especially when it comes to another shuddered U.S. government.

Fortunately, pessimism is not the same as hopelessness. People the world over told us they believe that humanity's big problems can be addressed with the right leadership. Here we found that the skills, strengths, and ideals associated with women were the ones that people deemed essential to creating a positive future. When we asked for the key traits need to foster prosperity, better government, world peace, and better social conditions the same handful of feminine terms dominated the lists. They included: openness, reason, communication, flexibility and selflessness.

Although our respondents recognized that men can also possess these traits, they associated these words more with women and they were quite certain that the world needs modern leadership based on these qualities. Overall, the data told us that people were running out of patience with the masculine paradigm and that they believed that the times required that both men and women think and act with a more feminine mindset.

To understand the trend more fully we set out to find people who are already leading with these strengths and values. Michael D'Antonio, my co-author, and I traveled nearly four times around the world, conducting interviews in another 18 nations. And we saw that politics doesn't always have to always broken. In Berlin, a new model for diplomacy is practiced at The Felleshus, a Danish word meaning "house for everyone." As the world's first 'shared embassy', The Felleshus is home to diplomatic missions from five Nordic countries where officials share common space and support staff, and move freely from office to office in their pursuit of common understanding and goals. Not surprisingly, the Felleshus nations of Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland also lead the world in the advancement of women in all sectors of society.

On a bureaucratic level, the combined embassy reduces cost and streamlines relationships. "Economically and socially, there has been much easier integration" because of the Felleshus, said Leo Riski a Finnish diplomat at the embassy complex. "It's much easier to do business. People can trust each other," whether they are selling goods, traveling, purchasing properties, or even emigrating for employment". Not surprisingly, The Felleshus also boasts a record number of women diplomats within its walls.

The idea for the embassy complex arose after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when Germany's capital was moved from Bonn to Berlin. The architecture emphasizes transparency, with plenty of glass and open space, but also cohesion. A fencelike copper band, fifteen meters high and weathered to a greenish patina, joins the building together to symbolize the shared interests of the five nations. It is visible from the street and reminds visitors that they are entering a sheltered space of mutual support.

Mutual support is an anathema in Washington D.C. these days. Perhaps voters frustrated with intractable posturing and gridlock will ask a different question at the midterm elections: Not "am I better off with a Democrat or a Republican?" but rather "a man or a woman?"

 

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