18 Million Scratches

June 09, 2008

Having just spent several days being inspired by the entire 2008 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL), it certainly was hard to watch what potentially could have been the first woman number one leader in the land gracefully suspend her campaign on Saturday night. After her speech, one of the strongest images Hillary Clinton left me with was a picture of 18 million “scratches” on that old glass ceiling.

Was it continuing prejudice against having a woman in the White House that led to Clinton’s loss in the end? Was it that Obama ran a smarter campaign? Different news accounts certainly defend each explanation just as strongly. Was it a combination of the two, with added ingredients from behind the scenes that we will never know? Probably.

Of course, now everyone is waiting to see where those 18 million supporters of Clinton will go. Will they stay true to party lines? Will they perceive McCain in a different light? Will Obama attempt to capture them right from the get-go by asking Clinton to be number two? Imagine the history there, an African American and a woman on the same slate.

At the NCCWSL Women of Distinction awards ceremony, I heard many stories of women overcoming discrimination directed at them for no other reason than that they were women. Many of the young students were shocked at what these women had to face — and some of them not so long ago. I keep thinking about those 18 million scratches on a glass ceiling poised to crack. AAUW has been scratching for equity since 1881 … guess we’ll keep at it.

Christy Jones, CAE By:   |   June 09, 2008


  1. Avatar Diana says:

    I’m tired of scratching, not only to breakthrough the political ceiling, but through all layers of discrimination that women (and men) face daily. I know it takes years, even centuries apparently, to change or create laws but what will it take to change attitudes? Hillary faced gender bias, Obama is and will be facing ethnic bias and even McCain is facing criticism due to his age. I think we’d all rather be judged on our actions, aptitudes, experience, and even mistakes than on our outward appearance.

  2. Avatar Janet R. Nortrom says:

    I was with Hillary to the end. I felt she provided competency, experiece, intellect and common sense on so many issues. I will certainly support Obama, because I want a democrat in the house. But Hillary, as the first Woman president provided a woman with lots of pizazz and guts and I am baffled why America is not ready for her. The media was the hardest to sell.
    I hope she works for many other good changes in our Life. I wanted a competent woman like Hillary Clinton for President of the US during my lifetime and I felt she kept that spirit of concern for America going in her concession speech on Saturday.

  3. The 18 million scratches in the glass ceiling is an incredible visual. I do believe that there is no silver bullet answer in why she wasn’t able to capture the nomination. People love the ‘idea’ of Obama, the comparisons to Camelot, the rock star image. Hillary is a harder ‘sell’ because she’s issue driven. We don’t want complex & thoughtful, our society lives in media soundbytes. I have tremendous respect for Obama; and will likely vote for him – simply to support the party. But I want to see some substance. Younger women (post Title IX) have no idea what it was like to have to answer ‘are you expecting’, ‘when do you plan to marry’. Not to mention the sexual harassment of the 60’s and 70’s.

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