The girl is gone.

Michele Bachmann’s exit from the race for the GOP presidential nomination signals a sad reality: America is not ready for a female president.

While Bachmann may have been a flawed candidate with little chance of going the distance in the race for the White House, a greater flaw is that the U.S. political landscape is unable to produce a woman who can prove to voters she can lead the nation. Bachmann's campaign lasted about 200 days.

While America prides itself with being at the forefront of women's rights, other countries have figured out that women make excellent leaders. Countries that have had female heads of state include Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, India, Germany, Panama, Argentina, Philippines, Ireland, Nicaragua, Iceland, Bolivia and Malta. Even China makes the list, with Soong Ching-ling having served as president. And tiny San Marino (pop. 30,000), with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus, has tapped women to lead.

To those who question whether women can be effective leaders, I have two words for you: Margaret Thatcher. Britain's first female prime minister, The Iron Lady, one of the world’s most respected (and reviled) leaders, is the first woman to lead a major political party in England. She was elected to three terms and her strict conservatism and tough stance against the Soviet Union defined an unwavering leadership style. Thatcher understood the need to be tough, and held herself accountable. She understood that her throne didn't need a $600 toilet seat, unlike the U.S. Congress, and insisted instead on paying for her own ironing board, according to a BBC report. She is often seen as tough, yet charming, able to think on her feet and not afraid to speak her mind. 

So, where is America’s Iron Lady?

The aspirations of pioneering political women like Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and Bachmann seem to fit a disturbing mantra: One gal at a time, please. 

Democrats and Republicans need to fix this, and begin scouting and grooming the best American women leaders doing good, smart work in government, instead of sending out a lone wolf to be eaten by the mongrel hordes.

The U.S. needs a woman to run for president who is more than “likable enough.” While most women fancy themselves a feminist, the truth is many women still think their ilk is better at serving Ovaltine than the Oval Office. Molly Gordon, from Sioux City, Iowa, recently told NPR: “Frankly, I am a woman, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with a woman as president. Women are just – I just don’t know if we’re cut out to lead.” 

Gordon may be more the rule than the exception, personifying the message that gender is a deal breaker when it comes to the presidency. With women making up 51% of the U.S. population, Gordon’s comments hint at the bigger story: Women are the ones not ready for a female president.

In a Gallup poll conducted in 1955, 52 percent of those polled said they would support a woman for president. That number rose to 73 percent in 1975 and to 82 percent in 1987. But in 2009, only 55 percent of those polled said America is ready for a woman president. This is up just 7 percentage points from 1999. Men were actually more likely than women to say the country is ready for a woman commander in chief. Sixty percent of men said so in 2009, compared to 51 percent of women. In 1999, both groups were divided on the issue. 

Will voters really turn out for a female presidential candidate if they think she is the right choice but think America is not ready for a commander in chief who wears a skirt? 

It's time for women to stop pretending that they are bra-burning feminists. These days, it's not practical to burn brassieres. Not when women have worked as hard as their male counterparts for three-quarters of the pay in order to afford the lingerie, which costs twice as much as men's underwear. 

Women need to take a close look at the achievements of those around them. Everywhere, there is proof women can lead. Women are the governors, senators, CEOs, military officers, Supreme Court justices, mothers, wives, sisters, aunts and teachers that have shaped Americans' lives and orchestrated the values and laws that shape our way of life.

In the biopic “The Iron Lady,” Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher is shown hosting a meeting of heads of state. When the meeting is over, the British prime minister, the only woman in the room, says to her guests, “Gentlemen, shall we join the ladies?”

On this side of the pond, it's time for the ladies to join the gentlemen and come up with a woman candidate who has a real shot at becoming president.

Lion Calandra is a Senior Editor at