Waren zij wel bekwaam? - Twee vrouwelijke premiers in het Westen in de late twintigste eeuw | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 122, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163


Until recently, very few women played a part in parliamentary and governmental politics in Western democracies. Indeed, there was a widely held belief that women did not make competent politicians. The handful of female parliamentarians who did emerge after World War II were expected to restrict themselves to policy areas traditionally regarded as suitable for women, such as health, social work, and education, and to leave more weighty and prestigious fields such as economics, foreign affairs, and defence to their male colleagues. The development of the welfare society, better educational opportunities, and new social movements such as second-wave feminism prompted a rise in the number of female politicians which challenged the idea of female incompetence. A number of prominent female political leaders came to the fore, among them two women prime ministers: Margaret Thatcher (UK, 1979-1990) and Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway, 1981, 1986-1989, 1990-1996). How competently did these two women perform? In order to answer to this question, I conducted an analysis of each of these women leaders in two important policy areas. The results undermine the above-mentioned prejudices and show that both leaders were competent in the areas under discussion.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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