After Hillary Clinton’s loss in the race to be the Democratic nominee and Sarah Palin’s loss as vice presidential candidate, the role of women in leadership positions is more salient than ever. However, one question that does not always get asked is, what (if any) is the role of men in furthering feminist goals? Clearly, one such goal is the attainment of more powerful leadership positions in the United States. One way that men in leadership positions can contribute to this process is by (at least) considering women when it comes time to make appointments to powerful jobs that are not elected offices.
With this in mind, it was refreshing to see Governor David Paterson of New York go a little ballistic at a televised press conference when a commission recommending replacements for the (female) retiring chief judge Judith Kaye failed to come up with any female candidates. The Governor is obligated to pick from the list that is comprised of seven male candidates. He said, “I don’t accept that there wasn’t a woman in this state that wasn’t qualified to serve on the Court of Appeals.” How many times has a male politician made such a statement? Unfortunately, the Governor has little legal power to change the commission’s mind. Yet the role of male allies in the struggle for gender equality gained new visibility.