Lessons from Govie Leads on TV

GovFem_FinalThe gender gap in government is slowly narrowing. One thing we have to thank for that is the increasing number of female role models in government we’re seeing in the media, particularly on our favorite shows. While the characters are far from perfect, and in some cases far from reality, they depict real women striving to serve their country.

Here are some lessons we can learn from these 7 kickass female leads on TV:


Selena Meyer, President, Veep

What we can learn from her: Selena is never afraid to assert her authority and take charge of a situation. Even if that means delivering a hard message, she speaks her mind and makes sure her team gets the job done.

Mistakes to avoid: Selena is quick to let people know what they’re doing wrong, but less quick to say thank you. Don’t forget to praise your team (or Garry, your bag handler) when they do a good job. Show your appreciation to keep up morale!


CJ Craig, White House Press Secretary/Chief of Staff, West Wing

What we can learn from her: As a top member of President Bartlett’s Cabinet, CJ is sharp, well spoken, and witty. She’s never afraid to speak her mind and maintains her integrity even when she’s promoted to White House Chief of Staff.

Mistakes to avoid: At times, her need to be transparent to the public about volatile issues put herself and her staff in danger. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be transparent or ditch the idea of integrity, but learn the balance between what is important to relay to citizens and what keeps government and personnel information safe.


Leslie Knope, City Department Deputy Director, Parks and Recreation

What we can learn from her: Leslie has high ambitions (specifically, she wants to become POTUS). She is cheerful, ambitious, hardworking, and optimistic. Leslie is firmly committed to the belief that government should provide a service for its people and goes above and beyond her job to serve Pawnee’s residents.

Mistakes to avoid: Leslie’s optimism borders on naïve at times. This gets in the way of successfully executing her goals. It’s good to be optimistic, but don’t let that cloud your judgment. Know how to identify what’s working and what’s not, and listen to the public when they have complaints instead of deluding yourself into thinking of them as “people caring loudly for you.”


Mellie Grant, First Lady, Scandal 

What we can learn from her: I know you’re wondering why Olivia Pope is not listed here. While she provides a lot of great examples, Pope is technically not a govie. Mellie actually gives us quite a few great examples in her government role. She is tougher than nails, highly ambitious, educated, and eloquent. No matter what trials she endures, Mellie has the ability to see the bigger picture and overcome for the Presidency and the Republic.

Mistakes to avoid: Mellie endures extreme personal hardships on top of running the nation. For obvious reasons, her emotional stress often affects her motives. With all the stress of government and personal life, it’s important to be sure you understand your motives in public service. Are you pursuing policies for personal interest/gain or for the interest of the public?


Constance Payton, President, State of Affairs

What we can learn from her: Constance is a powerhouse. She is not only a path forger for women of color, but she’s smart, strong, and doesn’t let anybody mess with her. Having served in the Air Force, she’s ready to lead from the top and fight alongside her fellow soldiers or staff, in combat or national crisis.

Mistakes to avoid: Determined to avenge the death of her son, Constance sometimes loses sight of who to trust in her cabinet. Her CIA briefer, Charlie, also happens to be her almost-daughter-in-law. While family should usually be the first people to trust, it would not be wise to promote them to high-ranking positions in your government office. Personal issues will get in the way and you make yourself more vulnerable to threats and attacks.


Dr. Elizabeth McCord, Secretary of State, Madam Secretary

What we can learn from her: Bess is one of the most powerful women in Washington who takes on the challenge of diplomacy and national security, while balancing her family life. She takes the time to understand policies before promoting them and she approaches her job with passion. She is never afraid to voice her disagreement, even with the President.

Mistakes to avoid: If Bess doesn’t agree with an official policy, she will not support it. While ‘t’s good to speak your mind and stand your ground on certain principles, it’s also important to know when it’s time to be diplomatic.


Angela Valdez, Assistant United States Attorney, Power

What we can learn from her: Angie grew up in a rough neighborhood in NYC but used her intellect, ambition, and determination to rise in her career and serve her country. She is devoted to public service and demonstrates genuine passion for her clients and the people she fights for. Angie is determined to see the “bad guys” serve their time.

A mistake to avoid: Angie’s love life, unfortunately, nearly compromises her career and everything she worked for. She breaks the law several times in order to defend her lover, a top drug dealer in New York. While we know this is a drama, just take this as a lesson to keep your work-life balance in check, especially when working in government.




Photo Credit: Flickr/Keirsten Marie



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