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Women have made great progress in the struggle for equality. But when it comes to filling leadership positions, women lag substantially behind men across industries, including in law, medicine, finance, academia and politics.
In podcasting, there’s also a gender imbalance—with just 22 percent of hosts being women.
Enter, Anna Palmer —co-author of POLITICO’s Playbook — who hopes her "Women Rule" podcast will inspire and inform listeners to learn from women who are at the heights of their careers.
Since Palmer started hosting the show last year, she’s spoken to leaders and influencers, in industries that run the gamut from culinary arts and fashion to Hollywood and politics. Some guests have included PBS CEO Paula Kerger, former WWE head Linda McMahon, philanthropist Jean Case, New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and more.
The podcast dives into women’s rise to leadership, what they’ve learned along the way and how they make it all work while balancing family obligations. Guests also serve up tangible advice that listeners can apply to their own careers. Often times, simply hearing about women’s paths to success inspires other women to set higher goals and rise above obstacles in order to make their dreams a reality, said Palmer.
“A lot of women have had to overcome challenges and obstacles and persevered in situations where only women are pushing for change in institutions,” said Palmer. “Many women talk about mentorship and the need to seek out mentors and allies, finding champions who not only give you advice but will be supportive of you and your career when you might not even be present in the room.”
Palmer also explained that the impostor syndrome is real, and that there’s a great need for moving more women and minorities into positions of power to break that barrier. Certainly, there’s something to be said for the concept of finding strength in numbers and having more women at the table. “There’s a real need for not just one women in the room or just one women of color in the room, but more allies in the room who look like us and who make us more comfortable to speak up,” she said.
Furthermore, being a leader in today’s world requires that you know your value so that you can negotiate better and be willing to take on risks and new challenges, Palmer said. For example, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, an American diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Malta and the first woman to run a diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia, recently shared with Palmer for the "Women Rule" podcast that women, and minorities in particular, should not be afraid to find their voices and let them be heard. “The guys don’t know any more than you do. Speak up,” she said. Abercrombie-Winstanley also suggested keeping three examples of your strengths at the ready so that you can be prepared to sell yourself in any conversation.
As for the future of women in politics and beyond, Palmer believes more progress can be made, but we’re certainly on the right path. “Over the past seven years, we’ve seen a big curve in the number of women running and interested in taking on that challenge,” Palmer said. “We still have a ways to go, but it’s an exciting cycle to see where women can rise up and what we can do to use full force in numbers to enact change.”