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Ohio State Speaker: Women should be leaders

The end of the fight for women’s equality in the workplace was the central theme of Alice Rivlin’s segment of the annual Barbara K. Fergus Women in Leadership Lecture Series.
The former assistant chair of the Federal Reserve Board, founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and senior fellow at The Brookings Institution talked extensively on the past, present and future for women in leadership Monday at a the Ohio Union Performance Hall.
She explained in her lecture how women are moving toward higher-paying jobs, a trend that has advanced to such a degree that in some families the woman earns more than the man – an occurrence that would have been considered bizarre in the past.
“I think that the question is not really so much about women,” Rivlin said in the lecture. “It is about how do we make our whole work force more productive, men and women. And that means more education, and more acquisition of higher skills, because higher skills are what lead you to higher paying jobs.”
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have both said the cost of education is too high and that higher education, whether it be a four-year university, community college, online classes or trade school, is necessary for people to be successful in modern America.
Rivlin explained there is enough momentum in workplace equality for women to stop fighting for legislation and focus on getting more education.
For some women in the audience, hearing about the economy wasn’t why they came. Rather, it was to see a female leader speak and hear her advice.
“My career goal would be to have a position of leadership in politics, so I thought I would come and check it out,” said Erin Pemberton, a second-year in political science.
“I think it is just important for people to recognize that women should have a place in leadership,” Pemberton said. “I think a lot of times it is normally seen as men would be the better leaders because that is always how it typically has been.”
Fergus said it’s important for women to see others in power.
“Women need to support women,” Fergus said. “So what the lecture series does is it supports women’s issues.”
Most of the lecture was devoted to the economy, and how politics play a factor in it,
“I am usually an optimistic person, and I have been very distressed in the last couple of years at the tone of political discourse in this country,” Rivlin said during the lecture. “It is blame-game and ‘gotcha’ politics.”
While negative advertising isn’t anything new to politics, the 2012 election season has seen negative ads from Obama and Romney, along with similar ads coming from lower-level offices.
In a pre-lecture interview, Rivlin said people are so stuck in their ideological positions that they will not compromise. She said attitudes like that will do little to help the country.
She explained that attitude is unacceptable, and that problems can only be solved when people collaborate and work together across party lines.
Rivlin said “we have to stabilize the debt problem.” At the beginning of September, the Treasury Department reported that the national debt stands at $16 trillion.
Rivlin’s ideas for working across party lines to stabilize the budget was appealing to some people in the audience.
“What was most compelling was the call for a balanced approach to solving our budget problems,” said Neil Townsend, a first-year master’s student in public affairs. “A solution that includes both increases in revenue as well as spending cuts as well.”
While the event was considered an overall success by attendees, some in the audience had suggestions on how to improve it.
Townsend said he thought students should have been given time to speak.
“This is not about student willingness,” Townsend said, commenting on how some students were standing in line to ask questions. “There should have been time allotted.”
Hank Wilson, director of communications for the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, said he had no problem with that suggestion.
“I think that is a great idea. I will certainly bring that up,” Wilson said.
Townsend said he liked what Rivlin said about politics, and thinks politicians need to take action on issues, instead of just saying they will during the election.
“I think people need to call on their congressional member to not kick the can down the road; to address the issue as soon as possible after the election,” he said.

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