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Past Event

Women and leadership: A conversation with Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Past Event

While women in leadership roles are on the rise, women still make up less than 10% of national leaders worldwide and fewer than 7% of Fortune 500 company CEOs. Moreover, behind these eye-opening statistics lie a pattern of unequal access to power and direct and indirect obstacles to success.

As a result of their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics, and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala—director-general of the World Trade Organization, Brookings nonresident distinguished fellow, and former minister of finance in Nigeria—and Julia Gillard—Brookings nonresident distinguished fellow and former prime minister of Australia—have strong ideas about the gendered treatment of leaders. In their new book “Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons Gillard and Okonjo-Iweala tease out what is different for women in leadership through conversations with some of the world’s most powerful and interesting women.

Women and Leadership book front coverSpeaking honestly and freely, the women interviewed in the book—including Jacinda Ardern and Hillary Clinton—talk about their ideas stolen by male colleagues, their treatment in the media, and what they wish they had done differently in their professional lives. Using current research as a starting point, Gillard and Okonjo-Iweala analyze the lived experiences of these women leaders and how gender and sexism have affected their perception. The result is a rare insight into life as a leader and a powerful call to arms for women everywhere.

On March 4, the Center for Universal Education and the Africa Growth Initiative hosted these accomplished women during a webinar reflecting on their insights and personal experiences. Gillard and Okonjo-Iweala joined Brookings President John R. Allen for a candid conversation exploring gender bias and why there aren’t more women in leadership roles.

Viewers submitted questions for panelists by emailing or via Twitter at #WomenAndLeadership.



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