The Year of the Woman: Minnesota’s epic opportunity to shatter the ceiling


America, having already broken through the race barrier by electing our nation’s first African American President, may or may not be on the verge of breaking through the gender barrier by electing our nation’s first female President.

There’s a long ways to go before November 2016 but the fact that Hillary Clinton still leads virtually every potential opponent, Democrat or Republican, is not an insignificant political reality.

Whether for or against her and her candidacy one does have to appreciate the excitement that would be evident in America and across the world at the prospect of our nation electing its first female President.

As the Dad of a Daughter I would be lying if I didn’t believe that development would send a very powerful message to her and millions of other young girls and women throughout the world.

Closer to home there is also the potential for some barrier shattering for females, as well, in a number of different areas of Minnesota life.

In Minnesota, we have yet to elect our first female Governor.  In an earlier post I predicted (and I still believe it will come to pass) that the state’s current Lt. Governor, Tina Smith, will move into that role upon an early retirement/resignation by current Governor Mark Dayton.

Smith is a restless, smart and savvy politico.

Even in watching her presence on social media she is mindful of the coming opportunity – whether by ascension or election – she has to be the first female Governor in Minnesota history.

At the University of Minnesota, still without its first female President, stands an opportunity for the institution to appoint a female Athletic Director in place of the recently resigned Norwood Teague.

That not a single female, other than the interim Athletic Director, Beth Goetz, has been mentioned as a potential candidate is disappointing.

Sadly, in mentioning Goetz others have seemed to casually dismiss her candidacy as not being ready for prime time.

As the same father of the same Daughter I am watching this very closely.  If the University of Minnesota is incapable of understanding this place in time in history and fails to field Goetz and other qualified female candidates for Athletic Director there should be an instant uprising.

The appointment of a female Athletic Director at the University of Minnesota would be electric.  It would supercharge their fundraising and change the dynamic at an institution that frankly needs some shaking up.

In fact, it would be quite interesting if the current University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler ultimately is deposed over the Teague and other incidents.

There are any number of extraordinary women in Minnesota that would be amazing candidates to replace Kaler.

Even closer to home for me is the City of St. Paul.

Since its founding in 1854 the City of St. Paul has yet to elect its first female Mayor.

Across the river the City of Minneapolis has not only elected and re-elected female Mayors, it also had the foresight to elect an African American woman as its first female Mayor.

I suspect that there could be, and should be, any number of strong, qualified female candidates considering the opportunity to run for Mayor should incumbent Chris Coleman not seek another term of office.

While I don’t have a preference for any candidate for Mayor of St. Paul I know there are many powerful women throughout the City that would be spectacular candidates and would, I believe, do fantastic jobs as Mayor.

There is no question in my mind that the potential for electing the City’s first woman Mayor – perhaps a woman of color – is a very real possibility in the next Mayoral election.

It’s simply a matter of who is willing and ready to step into the breach to be that candidate that can win.

As my Daughter grows up I learn from her more and more.  I understand the value and importance of her ability to see strong, successful women in positions of authority, leadership and power at every level of her life.

It is no less fundamental to her sense of empowerment and worth, than it is to my son, to see strong women AND men leading our communities, our businesses, our government, our educational institutions and our athletic departments.

I believe the world is changing around me in ways that I believe are as profound as the changes that took place during the 1960s and other moments in American history.

Much of these changes are for the better and have improved the lives of countless of millions of Americans.

In Minnesota, the world is changing, as well.

A female President?  A woman Governor?  A female Athletic Director and University of Minnesota President?  And, St. Paul’s first female Mayor?

Welcome to Minnesota!  Land of 10,000 firsts!

One comment

  1. David Walters · August 18, 2015

    Well put, and what a great way to model for our kids! My hat is off to all the strong women in our communities…


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