There is an adage that men are judged by their potential and women by their achievements.
A 2019 study on Frontiers in Psychology showed how this can work in the business world. Participants had to weigh four candidates, two men and two women, for a job in a fictitious company. A man and a woman had resumes and recommendations focusing on their past accomplishments. The other man and woman had resumes and testimonials highlighting their leadership abilities and potential.
In two different experiments, groups of participants were asked who they would hire. In each, the perception of potential was an advantage for the men, but not for the women. The experiments did not show pure sexism: in one of them, the participants thought that women would be better employed overall. But they showed that women were judged on what they had already done, while men were judged on what people thought they could do in the future.
Other research shows that men are more likely than women to be viewed as inspired. In 2017, The Harvard Business Review reported on a study revealing that men, but not women, gain leadership status at work to promote ideas seen as helping the group. A 2015 study found that “a man is credited with more creativity than a woman when he produces the same result.” Women can be beasts of burden, but rarely wonders.
It helps explain why there could never be a female Andrew Yang.
In the final round of voting for the New York mayor’s Democratic primary, Yang continues to lead. A Spectrum News NY1 / Ipsos poll shows it with 22% of probable Democratic voters, followed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at 13%. Progressive polling company Data for Progress shows Yang at 26%, double Adams’ 13%. A survey by the Siena College Research Institute and AARP led Yang with voters over 50, getting 24% of the vote, followed by Adams and the city’s comptroller, Scott Stringer, who each get 13% .
You might notice that neither Maya Wiley nor Kathryn Garcia are in the top three, despite their obvious qualifications. On paper, Wiley seems like the perfect candidate to recreate the coalition that elected Mayor Bill de Blasio. A former MSNBC mediating commentator, she was both Blasio’s lawyer and president of the city’s police watchdog. She’s a progressive black woman with an arsenal of plans similar to Elizabeth Warren’s.
Kathryn Garcia is the former commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation and should be an obvious choice for those who care most about competent crisis management. As a City & State article recently noted, she has “a reputation as a top restorative, called upon to tackle challenges such as lead exposure in children and meal delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic. “.
There are many reasons other than sex that neither of the two women has yet got hold of. Wiley, despite her experience with cable news, has been an uneven communicator; There’s a line on his website that says, “The DIY treadmill of incrementalism must give way to transformational.” Recognition of Garcia’s name is low – just 29% in a poll last month.
But they also run in a time of understandable disenchantment with city governance. Yang’s pollsters last month asked New York voters what they wanted from a mayor, giving them seven options, all worded positively. The two main responses were “a unifier able to bring the city together” and “a visionary able to understand what it will take for New York to recover from Covid”. Third, “a manager who understands the municipal administration”. Dead Last was “a public servant who spent his life working for others”.
Unfortunately, women are rarely seen as visionaries. It’s impossible to imagine a woman walking the path of, say, Pete Buttigieg, from mayor of Indiana’s fourth largest city to a credible presidential candidate and then cabinet secretary. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the great political talents of her generation, but I doubt that she would be taken seriously if she ran for mayor of New York, despite having much more political experience than Yang. . A woman in the race for mayor is leading a left-wing underdog campaign, a former public school teacher and nonprofit executive named Dianne Morales. In the Data for Progress poll, it is 3%.
Writing in The New Republic, Alex Pareene pitted Yang against Cynthia Nixon, a celebrity with a deep history of civic engagement whose main challenge for Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2018 “never stood a chance.” Yang’s innovation, Pareene writes, was to “become a celebrity through presidential candidate ”, legitimizing himself by sharing a stage with the leaders of the Democratic Party. That’s a good point, but it leaves out what is probably an even more stark difference between Yang and Nixon.
Male applicants can embody possibility and present themselves as repositories for people’s diffused hopes. Women generally have to pay their contributions. This creates a double constraint. There has never been a female mayor of New York, but that doesn’t make it easier for a woman to be a candidate for change.
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