I read with some sadness of the death of Margaret Thatcher at the ripe old age of 87. What a good innings she had even if her last few years were troubled by dementia. I also read with interest the comments that she was ‘unique’, ‘one of a kind’ and therefore unlikely to be replicated. Is it to early to say I beg to differ?
One of the surprising things about women in positions of power is that … well, when we get there we often do very well. This seems surprising to some parts of the community who show considerable consternation when a woman is appointed to a tough top job. What? A women? At the head of a government (or company, or department) making brave decisions? Must be a one-off. She must be unique. But she wasn’t and she’s not – at least in terms of women who know what they are doing and what they want.
I am forming a theory that what’s really scary (for some) about women in positions of authority, for example female prime ministers, is that they actually do a very good job. Now that’s not to say they don’t make unpopular decisions or that they don’t break their word (just like their male counterparts) but they are strong-willed, determined, often very good leaders and highly resilient. And there are more and more of them and that is what is making some of our (XY chromosome) community extremely nervous. Clever, well placed women are often very, very efficient and very, very much here to stay.
Some examples: Angela Merkel: Ms Merkel, at 58, is a German politician who has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005, and the Leader of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000. She is the first woman to hold either office. Big boots to fill I’d say. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel
And what about Hilary Clinton? Once she got out from under the ‘First lady’ tag, did she take up knitting ? She did not. She was the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, under President Barack Obama and a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. And closer to home, we cannot ignore our own Prime Minister. Love or hate her political leanings (or anyone else’s), becoming the first woman Prime Minister of Australia is no small feat and she was the Leader of the Australian Labor Party from 2010. She is the first woman to hold either office.
And away from the pollies: Oprah. She's known just by her first name: that's a very good start and for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show "The Oprah Winfrey Show" which was the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. She has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and was for a time the world's only black billionaire. She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world.[There are so many more who were inventors, scientists, doctors… It was a woman who invented Liquid Paper, Bette Nesmith Graham; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu created the first smallpox vaccine; Rosalind Franklin played a pivotal role in mapping out the double helix of DNA in the 1950s; Helen Greiner cofounded iRobot-a packbot that dismantles explosives (source: http://lifestyle.allwomenstalk.com/things-women-invented-first/) Randice-Lisa Altschul invented the world's first disposable cell phone and who can forget Marie Curie who discovered radium and furthered x-ray technology.
“To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say, you turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning” – Speech at Conservative Party conference, 1980.
Of those who believe that a successful, powerful woman must be an aberration,get ready for a shock. It is time to accept that strong women are and will increasingly be appointed to positions of power all over the world. And to paraphrase the Baroness, there’s no turning away from that.