Lessons from Eleanor

March 28, 2013

More than a half-century after her death, Eleanor Roosevelt continues to inspire women. If you look at a recent high school yearbook, you’ll probably see that at least a handful of students picked the former first lady’s words as their senior quotations. If you ask women politicians and diplomats whose legacy has most inspired them, Roosevelt’s name is sure to be one of the most oft-cited. It’s no wonder that the woman who served as one of the first delegates to the United Nations, who fought hard for civil rights protections, who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and who was dubbed the “first lady of the world” because of her global social justice work is still on the tip of our tongues as one of the most important women leaders in U.S. history.

But more than a shining, exceptional example, Roosevelt and her leadership style in facing everyday, interpersonal frustrations and anxieties can inspire all women leaders to stay the course. Modern women can take heart knowing that even one of the most unflinching women in history overcame shyness, self-doubt, and criticism. These lessons are the focus of Robin Gerber’s book Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way: Timeless Strategies from the First Lady of Courage. Gerber spoke with AAUW for the latest Outlook magazine about what women leaders — local and national — can learn from Roosevelt’s style. “When we think about female leaders, we think of Eleanor Roosevelt,” says Gerber. “She was a trailblazer. But her accomplishments stemmed from many of the same successes and failures and fears we all experience today. Roosevelt’s influences — as a wife, a mother, a first lady, and diplomat — reach beyond her lifetime to the modern, educated, and accomplished female leaders surrounding us today.”

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text.

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text.

Get the full story in the Spring/Summer issue of Outlook, which AAUW members can read online now, to find out what you can learn from Roosevelt. You’ll learn about how AAUW Dearborn (MI) Branch member Lee Savage is living out Roosevelt’s lesson of finding and being a mentor, how AAUW Thousand Oaks (CA) Branch member Colleen Briner-Schmidt applied the experience of motherhood to her professional life, and how AAUW Jamestown (ND) Branch member Jessica Haak took the risk of facing political criticism when she ran for (and won) a seat in the North Dakota House of Representatives.

Hear about even more AAUW members who are following in Roosevelt’s footsteps at the 2013 AAUW National Convention, where Gerber will speak about her book and what AAUW members can learn from Roosevelt.

Hannah Moulton Belec By:   |   March 28, 2013