We’re Getting A Female Prime Minister. Is This A Good Thing?

We're about the join the small and select group of countries that have had more than one female political leader ever. But how do Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May's policies add up?

We're Getting A Female Prime Minister. Is This A Good Thing?

by Jess Commons |
Published on

So guys, the honour of who is going to lead our country after the sorry mess of Brexit is now set to fall on the shoulders of one of two people; and they're both women.

Sure we won't have actually elected them but, by Andrea Leadsom or Theresa May becoming leader of the Conservative Party and ergo leader of the country, we're set to be only one of the few countries in the world to have elected or appointed one female leader, and then another.

In the first epsiode of Malcolm Gladwell's new podcast Revisionist History (you should check it out, it's bloody fascinating) he looks at this very issue - by electing a female leader and giving an 'outsider' a chance, history shows up that we then give ourselves liscence to reward our progressivism by treating them badly.

Gladwell uses the instance of Julia Gillard, the first female Australian PM who took office in 2010. Throughout her term she faced horrendous sexism. In 2012, she gave her famous misogyny speech against Tony Abbott and, in 2013, she stepped down.

Out of 63 countries to have elected female leaders, very few have followed up with another female leader. From Brazil to Canada, Costa Rica to Pakistan, France to Turkey, Latvia to Panama, Gladwell argues that we move forward, only to take a step back. 'A woman gets accepted into a man's world she thinks that somehow something has changed but nothing has changed. The men pat themselves on the back and then they slam the door shut again.'

However - despite what are considered their misgivings by many - it's clear from the coverage of May and Leadsoms' personal lives that more women are needed in the political limelight. Amongst 'facts' about the women written in the media during this race for leadership are that Theresa May has 'an exotic taste in shoes', that Theresa May has many cookbooks, but none by Delia Smith, who exactly Leadsom and May's 'other halves' are, Theresa May's 'heartbreak' at not having children, what Andrea cooks for Sunday Lunch... Basically, stuff that no-one would give a flying toss about if the contest was between two men.

Could having two women up against each other may finally force the country to focus more on their politics and less on their personal lives - after all - if they're both wearing dresses - how much more can anyone really say?

So, whilst a May vs Leadsom leadership race might not be an ideal scenario for the more liberal members of society, there are a few positives to remember - for starters, hooray for us, we're set to join the small and select group of countries that have repeat female leaders and two, fingers crossed this is a chance to change the rhetoric around how we discuss female leaders.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Meet The Young Women Who Voted For Brexit

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Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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