Madeleine Albright & Ambition

Greenfield Sanders

Go here for the “Makers” video on the first female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.

“Women are very lucky in many ways… I think that women can do everything, they just can’t do it all at the same time.” –Madeleine Albright

Today, I would like to honor the ambition and success of women in America, and in particular, of Madeleine Albright.

Albright said, “Being called ambitious, which is what I was called, made me seem like I was kind of conniving and threatening…”

Ladies, have you ever experienced this? I know I have. I am what most people call “driven” and “honest”, and many people see it as threatening- especially other women. But, the message here is that you shouldn’t care. Albright may not say it, but I would say, SCREW THOSE PEOPLE.

Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her family moved to the United States when she was just a young girl. She attended an all women’s college in Massachusetts, but after she graduated, got married and had twins. Like Albright said, most women who went to college still wanted to get married as soon as possible and have children, including herself.

While raising her family and volunteering for political campaigns, she completed her PhD at Columbia University. It took her 15 YEARS. I can only hope that I would have that kind of perseverance. Albright’s involvement with education boards landed her the position of Chief Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Ed Muskie, which was her first paying job at age 39! It’s wild how times have changed. I’m constantly stressing about the fact that I don’t have a full time, salaried job yet at age 25.

After that, she was the congressional liaison for The National Security Council, and moved on as a researcher at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution.

She couldn’t have it all at the same time, though. Her husband asked for a divorce in the 1980′s. Albright describes the divorce as a “huge shock”. She talks about how the divorce was an identity crisis for her because she had always seen herself as part of her husband. I am so glad that today we’ve shifted away from marital dependence. Albright speaks about how, after her divorce, she really began to develop her own views, and progress in her career.

Her credentials and accomplishments only become more impressive from there. She taught at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and directed the University’s program on women in global politics. She served as a major Democratic Party foreign policy advisor and in 1993 was appointed, by President Clinton, to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

This leads us to her most notable accomplishment- she became the first woman U.S. Secretary of State- appointed by President Clinton in 1996.

To be the “first woman-anything” is a lifetime accomplishment. One could die happily after becoming the first woman Secretary of State. But, Albright wasn’t finished. After her time as Secretary of State, she went on to become a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she founded an international strategy consulting firm, she currently serves on the board of directors for the Council on Foreign Relations. And she has also written many books!

At 76 years old, she has accomplished more than some people could accomplish in three lifetimes. What I love most about this story is that she did it all by just living. She didn’t write laws, or use government force to make it easier for her to accomplish her life goals. She didn’t make a law saying, the amount of men employed as Secretary of State must be equal to the amount of women employed as Secretary of State. She just DID IT.

She did it all, and experienced a marriage and had children! She is a woman who was truly able to “do everything”, and I think that we could all take some inspiration from her, regardless if we agree with her policies or not.

So, ladies, go out and get it! Live your life and don’t listen to anyone who says you’re “too ambitious” or acts threatened by your demeanor. Just do it.

[Originally published on Wollstonecrafty]


2 responses to “Madeleine Albright & Ambition

  1. I’m guessing that you and your readers aren’t into military stuff (but I could be wrong). Below is a link to a story I published for work last year. There is some military jargon, but it’s really about these three successful women in the military with their personal accounts of the progress that has been made over the years regarding the role of women in the military. I thought you might find it relevant.

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