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Opinion Editorials

Why Sanders calling Clinton “unqualified” is so much deeper than a political attack

There is one word that women in particular need to stop believing and here’s why.

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When it comes down to qualifications

Recently, Bernie Sanders said Hillary Clinton was “unqualified” to be president. Regardless of your political feelings, there is something infuriating about this statement. I am, by no means, Clinton’s largest fan, but I am a woman. When women are told they are unqualified to do something they are obviously very qualified for, there is a larger issue at hand. Sexism still runs deep, so deep that it can change the way a woman views herself, her abilities, and her future.

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538 has addressed this issue in their article, stating, even if Sanders “was attempting to make the basic argument of this election that ‘outsiders’ are more qualified than ‘insiders’ to run the country at this particular moment. Calling Clinton, a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of state ‘unqualified’ is raising ire as a gendered attack, although that didn’t appear to be Sanders’ intention.” Granted, many times statements are taken out of context, especially where politics is concerned to malign an opponent, however, I do not feel like this is the case here.

Sanders has since walked back on his statement, saying, “on Hillary Clinton’s ‘worst day, she would an infinitely better president’ than either of the GOP front-runners.” Again, she’s not qualified enough to stand on her own merit, merely in comparison as a “lesser of the evils” type of deal.

What this says about sexism in a larger context

According to 538, a 2013 paper by political scientists Kathryn Pearson and Eric McGhee, most female politicians are more qualified than their male counterparts. They looked at non-incumbent congressional races from 1984 to 2010, and which candidates had held elected office at a lower level — their metric for qualification — the researchers found that “women candidates in both parties are indeed more qualified than men.”

538 also states, “Why the extra layer of concern on the part of female candidates? For one thing, there appears to be more self-doubt on the part of these high-powered women. A 2004 report by Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox found that of a pool of prospective candidates — lawyers, business people, political activists — men were about twice as likely as women to say that they were qualified to run. Twenty-eight percent of women said they weren’t qualified at all, while only 12 percent of men found themselves lacking in some way. In the pop psychology parlance of 2016, we might note a whiff of imposter’s syndrome in these numbers.”

Why it matters on a larger scale

This is how pervasive sexism has become. So much so that women believe they are not qualified for a job when they are really better qualified than some of their boasting male colleagues. We have actually written about this phenomenon before. This is not to say that men shouldn’t be proud of their accomplishments as well, because they should. It just seems that society is more readily accepting of the fact that men are qualified for their jobs and promotions. I’d like to see more women take the same approach.

For all too frequently both men and women (although, I’ll argue women are told more frequently) they aren’t good enough. People will say you can’t or shouldn’t do something and often times the person on the receiving end of the criticism will take it to heart and believe it, even when they are perfectly capable of doing the “thing” in question, as evidenced by the women above not thinking they were qualified.

What you can do to change your thinking

I think of it like this: if someone told your best friend they weren’t good enough to do something, chances are you’d rush to their defense. You would state their qualifications, their best qualities, and make them feel better about themselves. So why then can we not see these same things in ourselves? Why do we allow others to break our spirits and tell us we aren’t good enough? If you wouldn’t let someone talk to your best friend that way, you shouldn’t allow someone to speak to you in that manner either.

If you would encourage your best friend to try something, encourage yourself to try it as well. Believe in yourself, your worth, and your ability to do it. Don’t let someone else’s insecurities become your own. You’ve got this and on the days you don’t think you do, ask your best friend; they will tell you, you do. It doesn’t matter if you’re running for president or asking for a promotion, you deserve the same respect and consideration as your colleagues, regardless of your gender.

#YouAreQualified

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jay Matthew

    April 12, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    It would be helpful if you actually gave people the full context of his quote as opposed to just taking the words you wanted to focus on and then creating an agenda around it. He listed a whole bunch of very valid reasons, none of which were sexist… I think that to don’t really know enough about him to be making assertions that what he said was in any way sexist. If you did, you would know that was not the case. Please provide the full information on what he said along with your opinions – or this is simply another effort at gaslighting.

  2. Jay Matthew

    April 12, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Here is the video of what he actually said. It is completely different from the picture that you are painting here… Did you even watch it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qktg4QcDgM

  3. Jeanette DePorre

    June 3, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Why does Hillary get a pass because she is a woman? The world is far more dangerous than when she first arrived in government. Things got much worse under her watch. She exposed the country to great risk the way she handled her emails. We lost an ambassador and four American heroes in Benghazi –under her watch. There are very serious allegations about corruption that need to be examined. She gets credit for being in the arena. Her sex should not enter into the discussion. Let the history books talk about her gender. Hillary stepped into the arena,
    so she needs to fight without her perfume, nails and jewelry. It is not sexist to question her competence or judgement. If she or her supporters are seeking a ‘safe zone’ or protected area for her—voters need to know.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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