Obama’s Female Staffers Shine On

female staffers

Amplification strategy proves successful for female aides…

Working women certainly won’t find this scenario unfamiliar. You enter a meeting prepared to bring a great idea to the table, only to have a male colleague dismiss it or “manterrput” you. The White House is no exception to this trend.

A recent Washington Post article by Juliet Eilperin details the ways in which female staffers in the Obama administration used “amplification” to promote each other’s ideas. When one woman brought an idea up, other women in the room would repeat her point and attribute it to her.

Other White House staff soon acknowledged their contributions and prevented their male colleagues from taking credit for them. “We just started doing it and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” a former Obama aide told Eilperin.

Their strategy worked. Obama noticed and promoted many of his female significantly in his second term. Today, women make up most of Obama’s senior aides.

Putting shine theory to the test…

These female staffers’ amplification approach is a prime example of the aptly named shine theory in action. First coined by journalist Ann Friedman in 2013, shine theory encourages women to befriend and help other women, rather than view them as competition or focus on comparison.

While many women may feel threatened by the success of their female peers, shine theory promotes the idea that spending time with them can only make you shine brighter, as in “I don’t shine if you don’t shine”. The success of amplification for these female White House staffers is only further proof of shine theory’s power.

U.S. politics remains heavily male-driven, but women have a promising future in leadership. As Eilperin writes, “The West Wing is also home to the ultimate glass ceiling.” Hillary Clinton’s potential election could shatter this ceiling and lift women into leadership roles they’ve never previously occupied.

For now, this group of staffers can inspire women in workplaces nationwide. Shine on!