[Outlook]Getting in touch with femininityDan Kindlon, a professor of child psychology at Harvard University, termed the expression, “Alpha girls,” to refer to women who do better than men in their career. As Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, Alpha girls mean women who come first in whatever they do.
As many Alpha girls advance in their chosen sectors, many women leaders have risen in the political field as well. These women have broken through prejudice against women in a male-dominated world to become leaders in their countries. Here are some Alpha girls from the political arena.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, 53, entered office in 2005. Michelle Bachelet, 56, became president of Chile in 2006.
Ireland also had a woman president, Mary McAleese, 56, in 1997. Gloria Arroyo, 60, became the president of the Philippines in 2001.
In Latvia, Vira Vike-Freiberga, 70, assumed the presidency in 1999. Liberia also saw a woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 68, in 2006.
Tarja Halonen, 64, became the president of Finland in 2000. In Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, 62, became the prime minister in 2006.
Helen Clark, 57, the prime minister of New Zealand, entered office in 1999.
Mozambique also has a woman prime minister, Luisa Diogo, 49, who entered office in 2004.
The prime minister of Bangladesh is also a woman, Khaleda Zia, 62. She began her second successive term in office in 2001.
In the United States, Nancy Pelosi became the first woman speaker of the House and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced a run for the presidency, saying “I’m in to win.”
In France, the Socialist Party presidential candidate is a woman, Segolene Royal.
Meanwhile, in South American countries, women have taken the positions of defense minister. Vivianne Blanlot is the defense minister of Chile. Uruguay’s defense minister is Azucena Berruti. In Argentina, Nilda Garre is the top military official.
In the past, military coups used to take place frequently in this region. But now, women are employed as defense ministers. This demonstrates a transformation in our time, a change from stiffness to softness.
In Korea, the era of Alpha girls and women’s leadership is just beginning. For instance, in schools girl students have long been on top in terms of performance. In national exams for senior government posts, women have done impressively well.
Among the 90 people who passed the national bar exam, completed a mandatory two-year training course this year and were appointed to serve as judges this year, 58 people, almost 65 percent, are women.
If performances in school or tests are the criteria to elect a president, it looks highly likely that a woman will become president of Korea.
School performances or scores in tests are not the only areas where women stand out. In days past, male students dominated the position of class president in elementary, junior high and high schools. But that is no longer the case.
The same is true in universities. In many clubs, usually a man was the president and a woman was vice president. That rule has been broken a long time ago. Instead, a woman student serves as the head and a man takes a lower position.
Women no longer stay behind men in terms of performance and leadership. They are surpassing men at an alarming speed. In fact, we have already produced a woman prime minister, and a woman presidential candidate is doing well.
However, in the business sector, the advancement of women has been relatively slow. On the rare occasions when a woman becomes an executive it is so unusual that she is thrust into the spotlight.
However, there is promising news here as well. Posco, Korea’s steel company, has produced its first female factory manager in the 39 years of the company’s existence.
Alpha girls will advance and more women will assume leadership at an increasing speed as time goes by.
There is one thing that such Alpha girls have to remember as they march forward. Their task is not the reproduction of a stiff and rigid civilization but the realization of the power of softness.
Something soft and flexible wins over something hard and rough. I hope that the power of softness, of femininity, will make the world more beautiful and more prosperous.
by Chung Jin-hong