elizabeth.jpgRecently, there’s been a series of articles about a very outspoken woman who lots of people hate.

I know, you’ve heard this scenario before.

This time the women is Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and the head of Congressional oversight for TARP, the program that poured money into banking institutions to keep the financial sector from collapsing. She’s pretty much the watchdog over that program and she’s one of the strongest voices out there pushing for the creation of a government agency that would protect consumers.

Why do people hate her? Because she’s a woman and she’s outspoken.

Warren, who has become a champion of the middle class and is the author of the book “The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke”, was recently profiled in Newsweek and the New York Times. The headline on the Newsweek story was:

“Voice of the Middle Class: Why Wall Street hates Elizabeth Warren.”

I don’t know about you, but if she’s the regulator overseeing the TARP process and advocating for a consumer financial protection agency wouldn’t you want Wall Street to hate her? What got us into so much trouble in this country seemed a lot to do with regulators who were too cozy with financial bigwigs and didn’t do their jobs, regulating.

Can you imagine a story on why criminals hate US Attorney General Eric Holder?

Stories like these about women like Warren, written by women, take our eyes off of the job at hand. So what if Wall Street hates her? So what if some people “accuse her of showboating or breeding cynicism,” as the New York Times piece states? That means she’s doing her job, no?

Almost every story you read about women in power focuses on how people perceive them as women. Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi, HP’s former CEO Carly Fiorina, etc. It’s frustrating that we can’t get beyond gender and look at what women leaders are able to accomplish or unable to accomplish first and foremost.

I know, Warren and the rest of these tough-talking gals are often ridiculed and undermined. But women need to rise above that…women leaders, women writers, women in general.

We will never be fully accepted by men no matter how we try.

I love men. I love my husband, my son, all the men in my life. But in the workplace, women will never be viewed the same as men. That’s just reality. It’s not a bad thing. We will always be different. We will always be the group that came in and took positions away from men. We did that. They were there first. And there are still only few women in the big offices throughout Corporate American and politics, so a woman leader will stick out … like a sore thumb to some.

fran.jpgFran Keeth, the former president and CEO of Shell Chemical told me something a few years back that summed up the reality of women in leadership. She had faced discrimination and the Good Ol’ Boys Network as she climbed the ladder of success, but even when she knew people began to respect her and deemed her as competent, it would never be gender nirvana:

“I became accepted, but I was not really one of them.”

It’s a harsh reality, and one that many women may not want to hear.

In the Newsweek article, Warren is forced to defend who she is.

“I don’t have the right sex. And I can’t keep my mouth shut. It is like a physical pain for me.”

Why is she making excuses for speaking out? Who the hell needs a leader who doesn’t?

Thank goodness she doesn’t shut up:


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