I'm obsessed with getting more women into leadership. Not just the verb leadership, where you're enabling yourself and others to take action. That's important, too. In this case, I'm talking about the noun leadership: Occupying a formal position of authority. I was thrilled this week to learn that Shonda Rhimes has joined the board of Planned Parenthood, and that it was an elevation in her leadership as she had been serving on the board of her local LA affiliate before Cecile Richards invited her to serve at the national level.
One of the most important lessons I've learned from Gloria Steinem is that sometimes you have to put your body where your beliefs are. You have to show up. But it's often difficult for women to commit to leadership when we've already got full-time jobs, partners, kids—let alone a media empire—that we're already managing. That's why I wrote Drop the Ball. It's no coincidence that the woman who wrote Year of Yes responded positively to the invitation to step up, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Planned Parenthood provides critical healthcare services that millions of women otherwise wouldn't have access to, and Shonda's leadership will help ensure that Planned Parenthood continues its important work even as it continues to be under attack. Though Shonda admits that she's never had to use Planned Parenthood services herself, the power of her leadership is that she gets what a lot of men on Capitol Hill don't: "One of the best things that we can do is be concerned about something even when it doesn't concern us. That's the whole point."