The Growing Presence of Women in Positions of Political Power

"Home Secretary, Theresa May, speaking at the Girl Summit" by DFID - UK Department for International DevelopmentFollow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ninety-eight years after the Eligibility of Women Act was passed, which allowed women to be elected into Parliament, we are set to congratulate Theresa May as Britain’s second female Prime Minister. Dating as far back as 1721 to Sir Robert Walpole, who is widely considered the first British Prime Minister; two out of seventy-six isn’t bad? Or at least it’s better than one (Margaret Thatcher, 1979 to 1990).

Currently we are seeing strong representation from women in positions of high power within politics across the world.

Theresa May was set to battle for the Conservative leadership, and subsequently the premiership, against Angela Leadsom. However, Leadsom withdrew from the all-female final run-in, leaving May as the only candidate to succeed the departing David Cameron.

Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, could make American history by becoming the first female President of the United States in the upcoming elections.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005, is #2 on Forbes’ Powerful People list, second to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Nicola Sturgeon is the first woman to lead the Scottish National Party as well as the first female First Minister of Scotland.

The big question is when will noting on the gender of a woman in power become negligible? Why is it that in 2016 we are still commenting on, and in many cases celebrating, the fact that Theresa May, and other women in power are, shockingly, women?

As Angela Eagle opposes Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, we are on track to see an even higher concentration of females challenging the male dominated world of British politics; with the current percentage split, after the 2015 General Election, at 71/29 percent (male/female) there is a breadth of opportunity to even the playing field.

What can we expect from Theresa May as she prepares to lead the country for the next four years?

Despite voting Remain in the recent EU Referendum, she has ensured ‘Brexit mean Brexit’ and endeavors to guarantee a successful exit from the EU for Britain; whilst also focusing on uniting the country and her political party, with the current expectation that May will fill her Cabinet with more women to run the country alongside her than any previous Conservative Prime Minister, after these past few weeks of uncertainty.

With a BA degree from the University of Oxford and just under 20 years experience working as an MP, initially elected for Maidenhead in the 1997 general election, we can be confident that she has both intelligence and experience. But to our dismay, although perhaps not surprise, we also know, in great detail, that Theresa May loves to wear kitten heels.

Alongside this, what can we see when we google image Theresa May? The first three categories are ‘Fashion’, ‘Weight Loss’ and ‘Shoes’. I think it speaks volumes that we will inevitably be judging Theresa May, the soon to be Prime Minister of the UK, on her fashion choices and body size. Whilst we are encouraged to see ‘smiling’ and ‘young’ photos of Cameron.

Today, we are entering a new phase for the leadership of the UK, and we can only hope that the focus remains on May’s ability to lead this country through a time of great change, and not on her shoe collection.

Comment below with your thoughts on Theresa May and gender equality in politics.

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