Putting Women in Power Isn’t a Panacea for Gender Inequality

Putting Women in Power Isn’t a Panacea for Gender Inequality
Mexican President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo speaks during a press briefing at the National Palace, in Mexico City, Mexico, June 10, 2024 (SIPA photo by Luis Barron via AP Images).

In early June, Claudia Sheinbaum made history by becoming the first woman elected president of Mexico. While Sheinbaum has been lauded as an important symbol of women’s empowerment, some have criticized her approach to women’s issues. As Gema Kloppe-Santamaria and Julia Zulver argued, Sheinbaum’s policy proposals for addressing Mexico’s security crisis “fail to incorporate a gender and human rights lens that can move the country away from … militarized and punitive approaches.”

Sheinbaum enters office with high expectations placed upon her as a woman in power. She is expected to be an uncompromising defender of women’s rights, but also a savvy political player. She is far from an anomaly. Female leaders around the world have struggled to shoulder the burden of balancing the contradictory expectations placed upon them. Bringing a woman’s touch to government and beating men at “their own game” is tiresome work.

Many of the efforts to increase the number of women in leadership positions are predicated on the idea that women will behave differently than their male counterparts. As former U.S. President Barack Obama once put it, “Now women, I just want you to know; you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you’re better than us.”

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