What Do Women Have That Men Lack?

Last week a really bad health care bill was defeated in the U.S. Senate thanks to Senators Collins and Murkowski. Both are women. With the exception of Senator McCain (who, for reasons that may have had little or nothing to do with the bill itself, voted no), these are the only Republican senators who opposed the bill. The men went along with it, despite the bill’s indisputable shortcomings and inherent cruelty.

This isn’t an isolated example. There have been other such votes, and other examples throughout society in which the differences between the sexes became apparent.

I can’t help but wonder why. What do women — at least some women — have that men lack?

Sometimes, the answer seems obvious. It’s compassion.

Other times it seems obvious it’s not that men lack something, it’s what the women lack that makes the difference. Many of them seem to lack unbridled ambition. They seem willing to take actions that might hurt their careers but act nonetheless because it’s the right thing to do. I guess that would make them more courageous.

These are gross generalizations, of course. With many, many counterfactuals that undermine them.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that women often do bring a different perspective. And different core values. Senators Collins and Murkowski are reminders of the importance of diversity and the shortcomings of a male-only power structure.

Vera, it’s not easy to crack through the glass ceilings when you’re a woman. The world is willing to exclude women just because they’re women. If you don’t believe me, just look at how few women sit at corporate board tables, in CEO corner offices, and in our national and state legislative bodies. And, of course, after more than two centuries, we’re still waiting for our first woman president and our first woman chief justice of our Supreme Court.

I’ve met Senator Collins. I certainly don’t agree with her on everything, yet it’s hard not to respect her. She’s a remarkable person in many respects. I was reminded of that this past week.

My hope for you is that you will possess her strength and compassion, whether or not you ever aspire to or reach a position of rank or power.

Many will try to tell you that you are less because of your sex. Always remember that they speak not out of evidence or truth but out of fear and jealousy.

You will bring into this world something no one else possesses: your unique mix of genes, core values, personality, aspirations, experiences, and dreams. Use them to carve out a fulfilling, happy life; use them to make a contribution. Never allow anyone to convince you they are better than you, for any reason, including their sex.

Even if threats and fears (often from insecure men or bullies) try to pull you in a different direction, always try to do the right thing. For yourself. And for the world.

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