Why has it been so hard to shatter the glass ceiling?

Forbes Magazine’s most powerful woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was caught in conversation with President Obama yesterday at the G7 Summit. She was not, as the media suggested, auditioning for the lead role in the Sound of Music.

The G7 leaders are dealing with serious economic and political issues that will eventually trickle down to effect us all. But the media focus was on a photograph and a caricature that diminished the accomplishments of the German leader.

The Washington Post headlined “A remarkable photo of President Obama and Angela Merkel” and continued:

“The backdrop to the 41st G7 Summit held in Germany is breathtaking, with its green trees and towering mountains. It makes for great image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel talking and gesturing with a seated President Obama.

It’s made all the better with Merkel’s shruggie pose ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, which also just so happens to look like that one scene from “The Sound of Music.”

Really? Is this journalism? Here is a woman whose leadership skills have kept the European Union together, maintained a dialog with the Russian president in a difficult political climate and has transformed her country since her election in 2005.

And, American journalists covering the summit have likened the German Chancellor to a singing nun.

Bryce Covert, writing in The New York Times on Friday, chronicled “our problem with powerful women”. She described Hillary Clinton being “optimistic about the path of progress toward gender equality. She called the presidency the “highest, hardest glass ceiling.” But she also said that it had “about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”

In reality, Ms. Covert’s research shows, “Too few women make it into corporate leadership.”

“Progress is not inevitable, though, nor is it fixed. The country has a complicated relationship with powerful women: They have to keep proving themselves over and over again, being twice as good, and dragging one woman through the process doesn’t make it easier for those who follow.

Individual women might hope that their struggles blaze trails for everyone else. Mrs. Clinton must feel optimistic about her chances to win the presidency a second time around. But the reality is that the country hasn’t gotten used to women in charge. A crack in the glass ceiling in one place could very well just reinforce it for everyone else.”

Maybe it was Angela Merkel’s crack in the glass ceiling that has made it so hard for Mrs. Clinton. I might also suggest to the female journalists who enthusiastically broadcast ‘the sound of music photo’ on air last night, you’re not helping. You’re like the Safelight Auto Glass repair guy, making sure you seal up all those cracks and fortify glass ceiling.

Take another look at the photo. I think Chancellor Merkel is asking President Obama, “What’s wrong with you people? What is your problem with powerful women leaders?”

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