What's up, Europe? Gender, media and European integration. The story of a a young Dane exploring the continent.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Queens have a higher sucess rate

Here's a thought-provoking opinion seen in the NYT:

"A notable share of the great leaders in history have been women: Queen Hatshepsut and Cleopatra of Egypt, Empress Wu Zetian of China, Isabella of Castile, Queen Elizabeth I of England, Catherine the Great of Russia, and Maria Theresa of Austria. Granted, I’m neglecting the likes of Bloody Mary, but it’s still true that those women who climbed to power in monarchies had an astonishingly high success rate.

"I have a pet theory about what’s going on.

In monarchies, women who rose to the top dealt mostly with a narrow elite, so they could prove themselves and get on with governing. But in democracies in the television age, female leaders also have to navigate public prejudices — and these make democratic politics far more challenging for a woman than for a man."

"Women have often quipped that they have to be twice as good as men to get anywhere — but that, fortunately, is not difficult. In fact, it appears that it may be difficult after all. Modern democracies may empower deep prejudices and thus constrain female leaders in ways that ancient monarchies did not."

Read the article in full here


Lennart said...

You could hypothesise that, although the rule of parsimony (a.k.a. Occam's Razor) would rather have the simpler theory that democracy is more like a meritocracy where ability not bloodline determines who end on top.

This theory is also more in line with empirical evidence of actual gender differences in IQ distributions.

The idea that women works twice as hard as men to achieve the same thing is offensive to ALL har working people as well as a lie.

Nonetheless it is interesting to see a socialist argue in favour of monarchy.

R. said...

Hi Lennart,

Thanks for your comment!

First of all: please notice that I'm quoting an article written by some one else - I think it's an interesting view-point, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I agree 110 percent with its argumentation.

You seem to read the article as if it 'favours' monarcy - that's not how I see it! In my view the aim is to point to the fact that there a lot of of obstacles/ challenges that ambitious women face - which men do not have to struggle with. For one the stereotyping of media, which you will also find mentioned if you read the article in full.

An excellent example is, btw, American media's coverage of Clinton - here's some critique: http://feministing.com/election/

Lennart said...

I read the whole article.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

I think it exaggerates the extent to which assymetrical gender distributions in top political positions can be explained by conscious and unconscious discrimination against women.

Most people look for a candidate who will represent them. Why should they care about gender?

Thatcher was hugely popular.

The question of asymmetry is interesting, but I prefer a more pluralistic approach to its resolve.