This year both Prevention magazine and Adweek (an ad industry trade publication), published articles on over-50 women referred to as “Alpha Women.” Alpha women over 50 are often discussed in our media, but not everyone is in agreement as to what defines an “Alpha” woman. In fact, Adweek received complaint letters saying that marketers only wish women over 50 were as hip and happening as the magazine reported.
Who ARE those complainants? Have they watched a TV show lately? Have they seen the powerful women over 50 who are leading the charge to rebuild in the face of one of the most devastating storms this country has ever witnessed? Do they read the Wall Street Journal and not notice how many women are not only running Fortune 500 corporations, but some of the most respected nonprofits in the world?
To me it’s simple: Alpha women over 50 are finally getting their due! If you have any doubts about that, let me remind you that Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius and Kirsten Gillebrand have all demonstrated a powerful Alpha presence on television and elsewhere in the face of Hurricane Sandy, promising to help the New York/New Jersey areas survive and move on.
The term “Alpha women” is defined by Dictionary.com as “the dominant female in a pack,” while The Urban Dictionary.com states: “The Alpha woman is “Self-confident, assertive, a natural leader, a woman both Beta women AND men tend to follow. [i] In summary, the traits of leadership, low introversion, healthy self-esteem, and high emotional intelligence seem to be the common factors in the definition of the Alpha woman. And, who better than confident women over 40 to personify that kind of conviction and commitment!
Women over 40 today have more positive role models than ever before, even if they never expect to become Secretary of State, a partner in a law firm, or CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation. In fact, the current TV season has at least a dozen Alpha women in leading roles that are all so realistic it renews my confidence in the medium. (Leave the melodramatic “Stand By Your Man” stereotypes to opera sopranos!)
Here is just a partial list of Alpha women over 40 to inspire you, from entertainment to corporate to politics.
- Kerry Washington is only 35, but as crisis manager Olivia Pope on the hit ABC show,Scandal,she is surely the wisest “old” person on any show on TV right now. Admittedly, Olivia is in a far-fetched position as real-life executives go: can we really believe the Most Important Man on the Planet is so in love with her he risks matters of national security to be with her? Is it possible a crisis manager is not only able to provide intellectual firepower and command in highly charged situations, but that her passion and conviction make her so compelling a presence that powerful men fall all over themselves to listen to, look at and touch her? From what I’ve seen in many years of dealing with and working in Washington, D.C., the notion is not so far-fetched. Alpha indeed!
- Indra Nouyi, CEO of Pepsi, who is standing firm even in the face of activist investors who assert she should focus on the beverage aspect of that company’s business. She has chosen instead to diversify (and some say, dilute) beyond beverages to health-oriented products.
- Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, who bravely took the fall recently for the still-hotly debated and agonizing Libyan uprising that resulted in the death of several innocent Americans. Say what you will about her own aspirations to the most important job on the planet, she is the epitome of the “buck stops here” when it concerns a Democratic president whom she (and Big Bad Dog Bill Clinton) are working hard to get re-elected.
Thank the universe that Alpha women are well represented in our lives.
[i] The Urban Dictinary.com: “Alpha female” http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=alpha%20female