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Mar 9, 2006 — Since 2000, the Republican and Democratic parties have been moving further to the right and left, respectively, despite research showing that most Americans remain moderate in their political perspective, according to former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

She was guest speaker at a “Women in Public and International Affairs Speakers Series” lecture at Stern College for Women held March 7 in conjunction with the Marcia Robbins-Wilf Scholar-in-Residence Program.

Ms. Whitman, who at one time was the only woman governor in the nation, served as New Jersey’s highest state official from 1993 to 2000. In 2001 she was appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency during the first administration of George W. Bush.

She spoke at Stern College about her life in public service, her new book, It’s My Party, Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP, and balancing career and family.
“While I was in office, I didn’t dwell on the fact that I was a woman. But now, looking back, I can see some barriers that I encountered because of it,” she told the audience of mostly Stern students. As examples she cited critics who commented on her clothes and jewelry, her aggressiveness, or the fact that she didn’t seem tough enough—“things that would never have been mentioned if I had been a man,” she said.

She wrote her book—a call to arms, she said—because “I was concerned about what it means to the country to have divisive politics” in both parties. “We need to bring both parties back to the center,” she said, suggesting that the trend toward extremism could be reversed, “but only if those who care step up. We should care because [divisiveness] impacts on our ability to affect public policy.”

Her final message concerned the balance she said women must strike between career and family—she raised two children while she was in public service.

“As a woman, you can have a career and a family, but you always need to make compromises. And that’s okay. There’s no such thing as a superwoman,” she said.