Women Must Behave Like Men to Be a Politician?

I have to confess I never thought I’d actually be quoting Ann Widdicombe in this blog but you just never can tell. Obviously I don’t agree with her but read on women in parliament bbcand share your thoughts with me.

Quote from Ann Widdecombe:

If you want to succeed in a man’s world then you must succeed on the same basis as the men, and compete on equal terms, not on special, favourable ones created for women.

I never thought of myself as a woman MP but rather as an MP who happened to be a woman. That is why I never had time for all women shortlists.

Where shall I begin? This is a view often expressed by women and men alike, but it misses one important point: the world is not equal for men and women, the world, especially in politics, has been designed by men for men, at a time when the idea of women MPs was unthinkable. It is not a gender equal platform from which to launch a political career or to fight for one’s beliefs. You cannot apply one standard across the board and expect it to produce the best results.

It’s probably worth noting that Ms Widdicombe is a single woman with no children who lived for much of her political life with her mother. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but she will not have experienced many of the problems that other women MPs will have to deal with on a daily basis.

There are currently 502 male MPs and 147 female MPs. There are 27 members of the current UK Cabinet, 4 are women. Oh yes, why can’t a woman be more like man? Because she’s a woman and different! And those differences become more pronounced in a world designed to work very neatly for white, middle class men. The system needs changing and do you know what? I think even the *white, middle class men would see a benefit in a more gender equal world, and their daughters certainly would.

*I know and love many white, middle class men. Not knocking them at all, just want them to move over and make a bit more space!

If you’re thinking of making positive changes this year, check out RenewYou. One day… lasts a lifetime.

Thanks to BBC for the photo


Posted on January 20th, 2014 by

3 Responses to “Women Must Behave Like Men to Be a Politician?”

  1. Hi Jane, Yes this is something that I feel quite strongly about too. The structure, expectations and culture, in many businesses as well as in politics, can make it harder for women. This has huge implications for the quality of decision making at the highest level.

    The women who find it easiest to progress within these systems are perhaps those who are least likely to push for change if they reach the higher echelons. There are exceptions of course.

    Changing entrenched systems and cultures is hard to do, as in order to get to a position of influence and power, you have to work your way up within the prevailing system and culture. But the more women who do put themselves forward for public office, the more we might find a critical mass.

    This also offers a good argument for all women shortlists for some parliamentary seats.

  2. Jane thanks for a thought provoking post and Felicity for her comments. The UK really lags behind in terms of women in public life, at any level and across political boundaries. We can ‘t have the best society we could have, if we cut out 50 percent of the population. When I was head of equality for GMB, back in the day, we campaigned long and hard for all women shortlists, which were successful in 1996 in bringing 101 women LabourMPs into Parliament, the highest number ever. who then created better childcare access and facilitates, pressed for flexible working and drastically improved laws on domestic violence. Much of this has ben rolled back. I met Ann Widdicombe, she was a very credible professional politician. All women politicians have such a tough time. She asked me, ‘where were all the female leaders in the Trade Union movement?’ It was a darn pertinent question! But today we have made improvements in TU life ( more to do though) and tonight you can see the impact of Gender in the crisis engulfing the Lib Dems. We all have one life and one voice each, its never too late to use it. Im all for empowering women to stand up and speak out on whatever it is that they feel passionate about. Lets all speak out and speak up to make the world a better, more women friendly place.

  3. Couldn’t agree more Jane. Of course we should try and find ways to be authentic: be female and powerful, be female and successful. It’s about trying to define new ways, and new rolemodels. We really are different, and we do bring unique value and our own unique perspectives on matters. If we all start behaving like men, why would we even be in politics? What would that add to the spectrum of opinions and ideas?

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