Hillary Clinton’s Rules for Women

The former of secretary of State laid out a few best practices for women in a new interview with <em>Glamour</em>.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Aug. 7, 2014, 9:16 a.m.

A sad real­ity of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ca­reer ad­vice for wo­men is that it’s all about men. How to nav­ig­ate the sex­ist taunts that arise in the work­place, how to be less of a per­fec­tion­ist (be­cause men don’t both­er), and how to handle double stand­ards sur­round­ing ap­pear­ance and dress.

The former sec­ret­ary of State presen­ted this guid­ance in an in­ter­view with Glam­our Ed­it­or-in-Chief Cindi Leive, which will ap­pear in full in the magazine’s Septem­ber is­sue. In it, Leive tells Clin­ton many young wo­men don’t want to run for of­fice, that they think it’s a blood sport, to which Clin­ton eas­ily replies: It is. Be­low is her best ad­vice on how to do it any­way.

1. Play the long game.

“It doesn’t have to all hap­pen when you’re young — I mean, one of the most power­ful wo­men in Amer­ic­an polit­ics is Nancy Pelosi. She had five chil­dren. She didn’t go in­to polit­ics un­til her young­est child was in high school…. That’s one of the great things about be­ing a wo­man in today’s world: You have a much longer po­ten­tial work life than our moth­ers or our grand­moth­ers did.”

2. Prac­tice pub­lic speak­ing.

“If you’re not com­fort­able with pub­lic speak­ing — and nobody starts out com­fort­able, you have to learn how to be com­fort­able — prac­tice. I can­not over­state the im­port­ance of prac­ti­cing.”

3. Ask for help.

“Too many people … have this deep-seated fear that if they ask for help, they will be thought less of. In my [view], they’ll be thought more of.”

4. Don’t be per­fect, be will­ing to learn.

“You don’t have to be per­fect. Most men nev­er think like that. They’re just try­ing to fig­ure out what’s the open­ing and how they can seize it.”

5. Don’t be rattled by sex­ism, but do stand up for oth­er wo­men.

“I have gen­er­ally not re­spon­ded [to sex­ist com­ments] if it’s about me. And I have re­spon­ded if it’s about some­body else, be­cause if wo­men in gen­er­al are be­ing de­graded, are be­ing dis­missed, then I can re­spond in a way that demon­strates I’m not tak­ing it per­son­ally but I’m really ser­i­ous about re­ject­ing that kind of be­ha­vi­or.”

6. Your ap­pear­ance shouldn’t mat­ter, but it does.

“I mean, clearly people should meet an ac­cept­able threshold of ap­pro­pri­ate­ness!… But I think that for many wo­men in the pub­lic eye, it just seems that the bur­den is so heavy … it takes a lot of time.”

7. Listen to oth­ers in the work­place.

“Keep­ing your head down and do­ing the best job you can in the be­gin­ning gives you the op­por­tun­ity to be eval­u­ated on the basis of the con­tri­bu­tions you are mak­ing. I of­ten would listen more than talk in my early meet­ings with people.”

8. But not too much.

“At the same time, you can­not be afraid to present your­self.”

9. For­get in­sults.

” … You just have to de­cide you’re go­ing to fol­low Elean­or Roosevelt’s max­im about grow­ing skin as thick as the hide of a rhino­cer­os, and you have to be in­cred­ibly well pre­pared — bet­ter pre­pared [than a man], ac­tu­ally … and you have to have a sup­port group around you, be­cause it can be really a bru­tal ex­per­i­ence.”

10. If you think you don’t want to run, think again.

” … There are many ways to be in­flu­en­tial. I mean, you can work for politi­cians … or in gov­ern­ment and make a dif­fer­ence.”

Marina Koren contributed to this article.
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