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Texas Town Where Women Rule

Texas Town Where Women Run the Whole Shebang

As a kid weaned on The Dukes of Hazzard and Ann Richards, I love this story — though I think it might have larger implications on the roles of women in leadership everywhere. See if you agree?

In the town of McLean, TX, the good ol’ boy network is being swept aside as women take the reins of almost all branches of town governance. Peggy Baer was elected in May 2007 as the town’s mayor, supervising a five-person board of aldermen who just also happen to be women. Also included in the new matriarchy are the city secretary, the justice of the peace, and the postmaster. So to what do the women attribute their success? To find out, and to see how Hillary fits in,


“We have people skills, and we’re a lot better to look at than most guys,” says Postmaster Diane Manuel. “You know why else women run this town? They’re not as cocky.” Heh. Literally, I guess. The women are getting some raves, like this from a former city employee: "The women do a lot more investigating than the men did in making an educated decision. They want to do everything by the book, which is the way it needs to be." Detractors say they women are on the catty side.

Mayor Baer says this of their woman-run show: "Women can change a diaper, stir a pot of stew, take a phone call, and use a leg to drag a toddler out from under the counter. We don't mind asking questions and saying we don't understand something."

It's a weirdly at-once forward and backward feeling story. Does it seem to you like the progress of women in government is stuck in a state of limbo? Like it's a foregone conclusion and a novelty all at once? Is this what might be (partially) hampering Hillary's bid?


Join The Conversation
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
This is a great experiment. I hope they succeed. If they don't, if they have troubles they can't handle, there won't be any men around to blame... Bad nice
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Since the first women entered politics focus has been on their dress and their hair and then on their views. It is a sign that women still haven't closed the gap that women in politics is still a novelty and that actions aren't separated and judged separately from the person aspect - women are always being called emotional or b*tchy. It isn't ever assumed that they're just doing a job... Also, as a shout out to my state, the fact that AZ had women in the top 5 positions in the state while I was a teenager had to have something to do with me thinking that is normal... Arizona voters have long rejected that man’s sexist view and have instead repeatedly elected women to high positions both in the legislative and executive branches of government. In fact, nearly a decade after it became the first state to elect women to all top five executive posts, Arizona’s female policy-makers have kept their share of power. Calling the shots at the executive tower is Gov. Janet Napolitano, a badge-wielding former federal prosecutor and one of the “Fab Five,” the all-female team that ran the Capitol after being swept into power in 1998.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Women in charge??!! My monocle just popped out!
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
I mean just look at the views that this story has gotten. 19. That's it. People are just not interested in women's rights and accomplishments anymore. It's just sad.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Citizen that is absolutely the case. People can disassociate men from their families and personal lives (unless there is sex involved) and focus on them as a public figure and/or a politician. A woman is never separated from her role in the home...from being a wife, a mother, AND a career woman. Some people like the U.N ambassador Stephley mentioned see it as a pro. Many see it as a con. I think the main "problem" is that people don't know how to compartmentalize women in power. Hillary presents herself the way that she does in order to be taken seriously. She is a fiercely intelligent person and understands how delicate of a balance this is. Sometimes I wish that she would talk more about being a mother and about how one of her assets is in fact that she is a woman. BUT while some like me would be drawn to that, others would say she is using the sex card and criticize and villify her for it. It's funny that Obama can talk about race and acknowledge the fact that there is still racism in this country, but everyone is trying to pretend that there is no longer any sexism. Sexism is alive and well in America. It's quite clear from this presidential race if nothing else. Hillary isn't allowed to be strong and she's not allowed to be weak. She's not allowed to be too masculine and she's not allowed to be too feminine. She's not allowed to be too career-minded and she's not allowed to be too family-minded. She has to walk on a tight wire. Many people say that they don't mind a woman president, just not THIS woman. The fact is Hillary is in the position that she is in because of exactly who she is. There is no other woman that would be where she is today. It's because she's tough, resilient, crafty, opportunistic, and hard-working. You may not like this kind of woman. BUT the question shouldn't be whether you like her or not. The question should be why are these undesirable traits for a female politician and considered run of the mill for a male? It is definitely not an even playing field and I don't think that it will be for some time. I don't think most people will understand how sexist this country is until we are looking back at this election 20, 40, maybe even 100 years from now. I am proud to see this happen in my lifetime, but unlike many of the women in my age group, I understand that we have a long way to go.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
This is my favorite quote. I can just hear some tough West Texas woman saying it: "There've been a few soreheads who think women can't do this but they didn't run," said Baer, 65. "And we ran and we're doing it. We're conducting the business of the city and we're doing a good job." darn right sister!
stephley stephley 9 years
This could be interesting to watch unfold - see what the women do well, if they avoid the usual pitfalls or if they discover new ones. In a lecture recently, a U.N. ambassador said he prefers to have women involved in any peace process because he finds they spend less time jockeying for position and think in terms of the future they're making for their children and grandchildren.
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