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      What Do Women Leaders Have in Common?
      發布時間:2019年03月01日     郭碩 譯  
      來源: 英語世界
      字號 簡體 繁體 打印

      What Do Women Leaders Have in Common?


      Besides being women and leaders, that is


      By Sharmilla Ganesan


      On the surface, one would be hardpressed[1] to find many similarities between German chancellor Angela Merkel, Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina, and Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – except for the fact that they are all female leaders of nations. Merkel, for example, spent more than a decade as a chemist before going into politics, while Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh’s first president, attended college at the same time that she served as her father’s political liaison[2], and Johnson Sirleaf was Liberia’s minister of finance and worked at multiple financial institutions outside her country before running for vice president in 1985.

      表面上看,很難找出德國總理安格拉· 默克爾、孟加拉國總理謝赫·哈西娜和利比里亞總統埃倫·約翰遜·瑟利夫三人之間的共同之處——除了她們都是女性國家領導人這一點。比如說,默克爾從政前曾從事化學研究十余年,孟加拉國開國總統之女哈西娜大學期間就擔任其父的政治聯絡員,而約翰遜·瑟利夫在1985年競選副總統之前還任過利比里亞的財政部長,并在多家海外金融機構有任職經歷。

      [1] hard-pressed 很難(做某事)。


      [2] liaison 聯絡員;聯系人。

      But despite the vastly different cultural and political contexts that these women arose in – and the roughly 20 other female heads-of-state around the world – is there something deeper that they share? Answering that question could reveal how women in leadership are perceived around the world, and perhaps more importantly, the obstacles women continue to face in their quest for equal representation.



      The researcher Susan R. Madsen of Utah Valley University says that while many studies have been done on leadership in different cultures, very few have focused on female leadership specifically. From 2009 to 2010 Madsen interviewed women in China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)[3] about their paths to leadership. She said she was surprised by the similarities among the women when they spoke about how they became leaders and advocates[4].

      猶他谷州立大學研究員蘇珊·R. 馬德森稱,雖然對不同文化中領導者的研究不在少數,但其中專門針對女性領導的研究卻寥寥無幾。2009到2010年,馬德森采訪了中國和阿拉伯聯合酋長國(阿聯酋)的一些女性領導人,一探她們的領袖之路。她說,聽著她們講述自己成為領導者、倡議者的歷程,她感嘆于這些女性之間的相似之處。

      [3] 阿拉伯聯合酋長國,簡稱阿聯酋。


      [4] advocate 擁護者;支持者;提倡者。

      “Every single one of them talked about finding their voices and their confidence at dinner-table conversations with their families. Their parents talked about politics, about what was happening in the community, and when the women had something to say, their parents didn’t hush them,” Madsen said. In the UAE, where men and women were often separated, women that Madsen interviewed pointed to the role of their fathers in encouraging them to speak up. “Every woman I spoke to said her father would bring home books for her to read when he traveled, which most other people didn’t have.”


      As part of a series of interviews on women and leadership, I spoke to three women from different countries who have each become leaders in their respective fields: Agnes Igoye of Uganda, who works with her government to counter human trafficking[5]; Ikram Ben Said, the founder of Tunisian women’s-rights organization Aswat Nissa[6]; and Sairee Chahal of India, who started SHEROES[7], a digital platform that helps women get back into the workforce. In these conversations I saw Madsen’s observation borne out[8].


      [5] human trafficking 人口販賣。


      [6] = Voices of Women 突尼斯的一個非政府組織,意為“女性的聲音”,致力于為女性爭取平權。


      [7] 印度一家幫助女性求職的在線平臺。


      [8] bear out 證實;為……作證。

      All three of my interviewees pointed to the family environment they had been raised in – particularly a father figure who taught and empowered[9] the women in the family to learn, ask questions, and form their own opinions – as a key factor in their own growth. This, coupled with mothers or other older women who broke convention by displaying leadership within the family, was common source of early lessons on leadership.


      [9] empower 增加(某人的)自主權。

      Igoye, for example, credited her father with[10] having the foresight to send his daughters to school despite opposition from others in their village. Her mother went back to school as an adult to improve her career as a teacher, which Igoye described as being a big influence on her. Similarly, Ben Said talked about how her father encouraged political debate among the family when she was growing up, even when her opinions contradicted his. Meanwhile, Chahal said that even in her younger days, her parents went against the general convention of expecting their daughters to aspire only to a good matrimonial match[11].


      [10] credit with 認為……有(良好的品質或特點)。


      [11] a good matrimonial match 文中指一個好妻子。

      Another conclusion from Madsen’s work is that women’s leadership development doesn’t look like men’s. “Men are more strategic and [tend to follow] a more linear path to becoming a leader. Women’s paths are much more emergent[12]. They tend to not necessarily look ahead and think, ‘I want to be on top.’ Women would point to a number of experiences – motherhood, or working with a non-profit, or sitting on[13] a board, as shaping their path to becoming leaders,” she said. Madsen likens this to a “patchwork quilt[14]” of experiences – an aggregate that is more clear and cohesive together than as distinct parts.


      [12] emergent 自然而然發生的。


      [13] sit on sth 在……中任職。


      [14] patchwork quilt 百衲被,指用多種不同色澤不同形狀的布塊拼縫而成的一種薄被。

      Which is why women are more likely to take a grassroots route to politics, says Farida Jalalzai of Oklahoma State University, “Women are more likely to first get into public life through activism[15]; sometimes it is through their identities as mothers to work on a particular problem,” she explained.


      [15] activism 行動主義,主張通過實際行動表達訴求。

      Another reason that women leaders may have some similarities is that they tend to be held to higher standards than their male counterparts, perhaps even more so in countries where there is dramatic gender inequality. Jalalzai has found this in her research. “We have to acknowledge that men are not faced with the suspicion that they can’t be good leaders simply because they are men,” she explained. “Tomorrow someone might say President Barack Obama was a complete failure, but no one is going to conclude from that that all men are bad leaders. So there’s a certain type of privilege that your success or failure is not going to reflect on your entire sex.”


      In Tunisia, for instance, Ben Said said the public is just beginning to accept and trust women in government. “The pressure is on them to perform, to deliver[16] results, so that people will be more encouraged to have more women in positions of leadership,” she told me. And Igoye has felt this in Uganda as well. “Women who take up leadership positions in my country have to be tough, it’s not easy at all,” she said. “You are always aware that you are representing all women. You have to work extra hard to deliver, to perform, because if you do something wrong, they will say, ‘Ah you see, women!’ ”


      [16] deliver 履行諾言;兌現。本段中出現的另一個deliver亦為此意。

      It’s for this reason that merely having women leaders can change the opportunities available for generations of women in a country. As Madsen put it, “Bottom line, what leadership looks like in their country, how much of a voice the women leaders are having, influences what leadership is and what it means to its women. For example, in the Middle East, the top leaders are kings or sheikhs[17], and there is a big separation between the leaders and society. Oftentimes, the women of those cultures just don’t see themselves in those positions, so their understanding of leadership is more male.” And that, perhaps more than anything else, is what Ben Said, Chahal, Igoye, and other women like them around the world stand to change.


      [17] sheikh 音譯為謝赫,文中指阿拉伯的親王、酋長等。