America didn’t get its first woman president this year. That title went to a reality TV star instead. But on reality TV tonight, odds are that America will get its first woman Ink Master—contestants Kelly Doty and Ryan Ashley Malarkey are two of the three finalists. And if it happens, it will very likely be because the women on the show took a hint from the Obama administration.

The women on the Spike TV show formed an alliance that systematically worked to highlight each other’s strengths and pack the finale with as many women as possible. It was an example of “amplification,” which holds that women can help each other’s voices be heard in masculine environments by supporting and highlighting each other. The tactic recently made headlines when the women of President Obama’s cabinet told the world they employed it to have their voices heard in the White House. Ironically, that kind of amplification was exactly what Hillary Clinton didn’t receive.

But forget Clinton for a second (don’t worry, we’ll get to her); let’s talk about the women of Ink Master. The current season started with 18 tattoo artists, five of whom were women. This alone is notable; while more women artists are entering the growing industry, there is hardly gender parity. In Ink Master’s eight seasons, a woman has never won. Ask most tattoo aficionados to name a single female tattoo artist and they’ll say one name: Kat Von D, who came from Ink Master judge Chris Nunez’s shop in Miami and turned her penchant for drama and portraiture into a successful career, on TV and on human flesh. So having as many women on this season of Ink Master was significant to begin with—and it’s what enabled the women to amplify, according to University of Illinois at Chicago feminist scholar Veronica Arreola. “First, you need enough women who want to do this, who don’t want to be out on their own, who don’t want to continue to play according to the old-boys’-network rules,” says Arreola.

Studies show women are often interrupted and spoken over at work or in environments like Ink Masters, whose so-called “stew room” where contestants await judging has been home to consistently aggressive behavior since the show’s inception. But the women this year, led by Malarky, (who could single-handedly make neck tattoos the next big thing) formed an alliance in the early episodes, which enabled them to amplify each other’s voices on a show that this season saw regular fighting matches about whose art was the ugliest, as well as below-the-belt attacks about people’s looks and ages.

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