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WMN Role Models: Jill Biden

The new American first lady will continue her work as a community college teacher, in parallel with her new public commitments. A choice that seems to hold a symbolic value

By Francesca Parravicini

A new era has finally begun: after the Trump administration's shocking end, with the attack on Capitol Hill, Joe Biden has been officially elected President of the United States. We are only at the beginning, but the atmosphere is completely different. A whole series of themes and categories that have been silenced (if not completely ignored) in the last four years are finally coming back to light. First of all, the female question.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Dr. Jill Biden (@drbiden)

We have, for the first time in history, Kamala Harris, the first woman to hold the position of vice-president of the United States, with her decidedly feminist family (we talked about it here, link all'articolo American Women) and then there's Jill Biden.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Dr. Jill Biden (@drbiden)

The new first lady already has a decidedly remarkable profile: a passionate advocate of culture, throughout her career she has always tried to balance education, work and family.

With the nckname of Professor Flotus, she has a doctorate in educational leadership, two masters earned while teaching in public high schools and caring for her children, and during Biden's vice-presidency alongside Obama she supported charitable initiatives in favor of fair education for children, military families and in the fight against cancer. Always working.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Dr. Jill Biden (@drbiden)

And even now as a first lady Jill has no plans to leave her position as english lecturer at Northern Virginia Community College (community college by the way. is a more accessible type of college and it's often considered second-rate, but praised by Jill for its democracy), balancing school commitments with the institutional ones. Not an easy task because, despite her new role does not provide for any mandatory assignment, the expectations of the White House and the whole world are not exactly light.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Dr. Jill Biden (@drbiden)

This seems to be the imprint of her life. A woman with a series of inalienable values at the core of her formation that decides to carry them forward and succeeds, even when they should clash with a whole series of expectations to which women always end up being subjected (even in the demonic year that is 2021). We can also interpret this as a kind of message, to revolutionize the figure of the first lady that, despite the commitment of women like Michelle Obama (we love her), continues to be considered an accessory figure, judged more for her look and beauty than her public initiatives.

A choice already criticized by the Wall Street Journal journalist Joseph Epstein. in article that seems to be the apotheosis of paternalism and sexism, where he suggested that Jill should abandon her title as a "doctor" and be content with being simply a first lady.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Dr. Jill Biden (@drbiden)

A choice that seems to hold an almost symbolic weight, if we look at the job market in the post-pandemic world. To speak about the italian situation, according to Istat data of December 2020, out of a chilling number of 101,000 new unemployed people, 99,000 are women. It's absolutely not a coincidence.

Crises reveal those structural cracks that have long been ingrained in society. Despite the progress made in recent years, we still have the problem of the gender pay gap (which settles  around 20% in the world) and the fact that women are considered a less necessary workforce and are more easily dismissed. 

The global crisis is just a painful reminder.

This situation creates a sense of anger and a desire to act, to find new paths and new models. And it's certainly a hyperbolic and exaggerated comparison, but having a First Lady who does not give up her job, who has built herself following her own path, always looking for a balance (what we all try to do, at every level, with equal dignity), is certainly a beautiful and positive sign.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Dr. Jill Biden (@drbiden)