The Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio recently voted Jane Christyson to head the local branch. Jane sounds more than qualified to head the organization in the new decade, as she has had more than 30 years in nonprofit organization management. Of course, if our society was truly equal, a woman being elected to lead an organization wouldn't be such a big event, let alone a headline. If society truly was equal, candidates would be determined by their skill level and qualifications alone, regardless of preference to someone because of their identity. It is often an argument that someone who isn't a male or white (and that is the tip of the iceberg) will get preferential treatment and not be considered qualified for the job at hand. But, as studies show, women are not leading the majority of corporations and organizations.
Being Women's History Month, we can look at history and see how much as progressed, and how much we have to go, and we have a long way to go, since women leaders are a caustic reality in a society that isn't used to the idea still. Film has been instrumental in presenting, showing, and telling what life was like way back then to even now stories of us. A good film that shows exactly this topic is 1939's The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.
The film stars Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp, Alan Hale, Vincent Price, Henry Stephenson, and Henry Daniell. Please be aware that this is scripted drama, not entirely based in actual facts. The film begins with The Earl of Essex (Flynn) returning from defeating the Spanish at Cadiz in triumph to London, where the Queen, Elizabeth I (Davis) meets him and is worried about his rising popularity among her people, and his ambition to boot. Upon arriving to court, he is met with envy by Lord Burghy(Stephenson), Sir Walter Raleigh(Price), and Sir Robert Cecil (Daniell), but kindly greeted by Sir Francis Bacon (Crisp). Expecting praise, Elizabeth criticizes him for not gutting the whole Spanish armada, wherein he says that he won't be disrespected by any king, let alone one in petticoats. In a private meeting, Elizabeth and Essex shed away their pretense and make out before he heads off to his ancestral home in Wonstead, as the disagreement was amplified by their differences. In an attempt to reconcile, Sir Francis Bacon advises Elizabeth to make him Master of the Ordinance as Ireland is fast presenting itself the problem. She does so, and he accepts as means the lovers can meet up again. However, the lovers are met with in-house conniving as Sir Cecil and Sir Raleigh conspire with Lady Penelope Gray (de Havilland) to further drive a wedge between them. When Essex is sent to Ireland to quell Sir Tyrone (Hale)'s army, they intercept the letters and there is confusion on both ends. You will have to watch the film to find out how it ends.
The film does show, as Bette Davis's characterization aptly displays, the pressures of being a leader who is also a woman, and deals with sexism in her court and throughout the world. The film paints her as a cold, stern woman who is refamillarizing herself with romance, all the while holding firm her duties as leader of the British realm. It is one of Davis' best performances on screen, and the gusto and temerity of her performance will make you wonder about how far we have come and how far we have to go with accepting women as leaders.