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Madam President?

We've never been so close to the possibility of electing a female president of the United States. We'll soon see early indicators of whether Hillary Clinton will be among the candidates voters will consider at this time next year. But while this would be a first for the U.S., women certainly have been charged with such influence before.

"Women & Power" are the words on the cover of the October 15 issue of Newsweek. Much of the magazine is devoted to stories of women in powerful positions and how they got there. One particularly intriguing article, "In All Their Glory," briefly recalls the lives of Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Margaret Thatcher, and other women who have led nations. The article suggests that as we head into an election year with a female candidate as the arguable frontrunner, we may look to the past for models of how women wield power.

I'm not one for much political fervor, and I suspect I'll spend the next year growing more and more weary of the endless debates and tightly scripted body language and empty rhetoric (about gender along with everything else). And I'm certainly not wanting to spark a political debate on this blog. But political campaigns and platforms aside, I wonder how a female president might lead this country.

I suspect a female president–regardless of her specific identity and party affiliation–would be a new kind of national leader. She might guide us toward conversations we haven't boiled on the front burner for a while. She might change the tone of diplomatic relationships. And I'm certain that she would garner a unique response from her people and from her peers on the world's stage.

Do women tend to lead differently, and would these differences change the style of presidential leadership in the U.S.? Does the Oval Office call for methods of leadership that transcend gender? Does our system of checks and balances override the potential that a president's gender might change the public conversation in this country? Do you think its citizens might respond differently to a woman as their leader? What about other world leaders?

What do you think?

November27, 2007 at 9:28 AM

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