The New York Times has asked a valid question: Women have led some 70 nations over the course of history—currently, they head 17—so why not the United States?

One answer has more to do with the job of U.S. president than actual candidates. In Europe—where women such as Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, and Theresa May have served—governments are known for their generous social welfare programs, meaning women may be seen as more suitable for high political office. The U.S. president, meanwhile, is primarily viewed as commander-in-chief, and that role is harder for women to fit into.

Laura Liswood, secretary general of the UN Foundation’s Council of Women World Leaders, says the American president is seen as the guardian of the world and “we still have a very gendered version of what leadership means.” And of course that pesky double standard is also at play. Not only do women have to be well-liked, she says, “we also have to be tough.”

clairezillman