The snow did not stop Hillary Clinton from delivering a strange but serious message to young women on Thursday: “Grow skin like a rhinoceros.”
The former Secretary of State and once and possibly future presidential candidate steered clear of politics, making no mention of any 2016 plans, when she delivered that advice to an enthusiastic and largely female audience at New York University.
Flanked by her daughter, Chelsea, and philanthropist Melinda Gates, Clinton focused on women’s economic empowerment as she spoke in support of the “No Ceilings” project — a joint venture of the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that seeks to empower women and girls by aggregating the best data on their contributions to society and security.
“One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever heard from anyone is from Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1920s who said that women in politics or in public roles should grow skin like a rhinoceros,” Clinton said. “I think there is some truth to that.”
The trio took questions on issues ranging from the decline in the number of women and girls in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to women in leadership positions, to what men can do to help women gain fuller anticipation in the workforce.
— Melinda Gates (@melindagates) February 13, 2014
Clinton said women and girls need more encouragement than their male peers.
“I have employed by this time a lot of very talented young men and young women and offering a promotion or expanded responsibilities almost always provokes a response something like, ‘I don’t know if I could do that’ or ‘Are you sure I could do that?’” Clinton said.
She added, “I’ve never heard that from a young man … ever.”
Clinton also spoke of the need to encourage and support girls at a young age, particularly in middle school.
“Something begins to happen around the middle school years, and those are tough years for both boys and girls,” Clinton said. “I think that for young women it becomes a period when they begin to doubt themselves.”
“They begin to lose confidence and that is often most evident in switching out of some of these [STEM] courses even though they loved them until they were 13, 14, 15,” she said.