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Over 70 people used the #VVLead hashtag last week as we began the first of many chats to come. Our topic last week covered “Women in Leadership,” inspired by Micah Zenko’s controversial article.

We asked: What are we losing as a result of women’s underrepresentation in leadership? This question is the same one asked by Heather Hurlburt in her response piece, Foreign Policy: The Feminine Realpolitik. She writes, 

…[W]e face a straightforward loss in the ‘war for talent.’ With American women now a majority of college graduates, receiving an ever-larger proportion of postgraduate degrees, and outperforming men academically, we’re missing brainpower if they don’t form a significant part of our national security infrastructure.”

Key takeaways from the Twitter conversation: 

– Women can offer critical perspectives and opinions while in positions of leadership. “The exclusion or misrepresentation of women in leadership roles, particularly in think tanks and across the policy making world, equals the loss of an enormous talent pool.” – @AEChandler1

– “Women cross lines that typically divide us. We have an innate ability to connect.” – @AlyseNelson

– What’s the most important leadership quality? “Authenticity- acting with integrity & in accordance with one’s core values, even when it’s not popular.” – @MarthaMertz

– Women are not reaching leadership positions because “they are often discouraged from pursuing national security careers.” – @RSPeaceLuvMagic

– To fix this, it requires an awareness of what’s going on — as Heather wrote, “calling out the problem.”

– Men need to be involved. “Some men at my thinktank will not host a panel without a woman on it, but more is needed.” – @AEChandler1 

– “But do we really want quotas? I think we want people to get it, see the value.” – @AlyseNelson We need more data to make the case for investing in women. Thinktanks need to be invested in this issue. As @alexrinkus pointed out, “hard data leads to strong progress.” 

– Will we see change? “The articles have caused a ripple, but it might not result in change without continued pressure/dialogue.” – @AEChandler1

– “It’s also important that women VOTE with stories they click on, events they attend. Must use your voices.” – @GayleLemmon

– Who are some of the most inspirational women leaders? Participants mentioned women military leaders, Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Mary Robinson, the first women president of Ireland. 

Participants mentioned key articles and studies, including: 

 – UPI, “Women take different risks than men

– OECD Study, “Women in Parliament

– Foreign Policy, “Female Engagement

– Foreign Affairs, “America’s Edge: Power in the Networked Century

We had several participants with extensive experience in the foreign policy world:

Morra Aarons-Mele: founder of Women Online and blogger of Women and Work

Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Mwamvita Makamba: Chief Officer of Marketing/Communications at Vodacom Tanzania

Mary Shnack: writer and public relations associate, Mary Shnack & Associates

Stephenie Foster: advocate and lecturer, American University Women & Politics Institute

Baroness Mary Goudie: member, House of Lords and member, Vital Voices Board of Directors

Ashley Chandler: research associate at CSIS

Read the full Tweetchat and see the participant list here

The issue came up again on Forbes yesterday. Leslie Bradshaw, COO and President of JESS3, wrote “Why Women Having Seats at the Table is not Enough” and said,

“If this was 100 or even 50 years ago, I might at least understand these statistics… But today is 2011 and there is little excuse for there to be such paltry figures across the board.”

In her post, Leslie points out some evidence of real change and hope in terms of women’s leadership, and we encourage you to share your own “More Seats” stories with her, so that the ripple of conversation about women’s leadership will continue. 

Further reading

The Radical Idea: “We’re All A-Twitter About Women In Leadership

Stephenie Foster: “Are DC Think Tanks a City of Men?

CIPE: “A world of men” 

If you wrote about the Tweetchat or Micah’s article, post the link to the comments and we will feature it in this post. 

Join us August 12 at 1 p.m. ET for our next #VVLead chat on human trafficking, in honor of the DC release of “The Whistleblower.” Look out for more info next week!