This was the answer given to the question “Why can’t men who have a lot of power keep their pants on?”
The conversation was about the Petraeus scandal and resignation but the response of the talking head – in all seriousness – was that men in power have too much testosterone and take increasingly large risks. She went on to list Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich and many other politicians who unzipped their careers or reputations over the years, as a good argument for electing more women, i.e. power does not increase risk taking in women.
We now have a historical number of women in the US Senate (20, or 20%) and the House of Representatives (77 or 17%), which means that our standing in the world for participation of women in our national politics edges up from #80 to maybe #79. Statistically 79 other countries, among them China, Pakistan and Iraq, have a higher percentage of women in political office than the United States. Apparently we are slow adopters of best practices.
Interestingly, the same concept of moderating risky behavior is what drives many countries around the world into demanding quotas for women on corporate boards of directors. Critical mass of women on corporate boards is documented to reduce unnecessary risk taking, increase overall performance of the companies and lead to greater stability. That must be why, as the Petraeus scandal was breaking, the UK opposed the adoption of quotas for women on boards as a EU policy.
The UK (and others) protested that quotas are an “unwarranted interference in national plans to enhance diversity”. The preference is that companies prove they have “sufficient measures in place to ensure gender equity” which means they can continue to do nothing.
Interesting juxtaposition: The British government saying a “self-regulatory model” of increasing diversity is the best approach (so very 1980’s), a General accused of “being hormonal” and unable to control himself (while controlling the CIA), and women portrayed as calming forces in the face of political and corporate mishegas (evidence based, with a nurture/nature undertone).
Oh yeah, and lets throw in that some bloggers are blaming Holly Petraeus for “letting herself go” and “looking like a dumpy frump” thereby forcing her husband to have an affair with a woman 20 years younger. I must say that November 2012 is a confusing time to be female. Good thing I don’t have to worry about my hormones impacting my decision making.