Women’s leadership in the political realm

An event aimed to complement Daemen College’s celebration of women’s history month did that and more.  Dr. Farida Jalazai, a 2004 University of Buffalo graduate and current associate professor of political science and Hannah Atkins, Endowed Chair at Oklahoma State University, led a presentation about women’s leadership in politics.


The professor highlighted the struggles that women have had in “breaking the glass ceiling” to become executives in government.


“When we look at gender stereotypes we can point to institutions,” Jalazai said.


The professor gave examples of women executives in government such as the late Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, current United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  She adds that despite these examples, the overall trend is a large gap between female and male leaders in executive positions in government.


Jalazai laid out a plurality of factors that are important when considering the executive access of women in government.  The factors that help decide women representation in such positions include but are not limited to government type, leftist control, and media coverage.


Specifically, on the subject of media coverage, the professor suggests that during the coverage of this past US election, political candidates Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton dealt with headlines that seemed to be directed at their gender, such as an online article telling Carly Fiorina to “smile more”, and other source’s that coined Hillary Clinton as “shrill.”


The professor and daughter of Pakistani immigrants credits her summer trips to Pakistan as a child as an important influence in her life. In Pakistani communities, “women didn’t have a public role,” and she adds that in her parent’s village there was “segregation between men and women.”


From 1960 to present day, the professor describes a growth of women in executive positions, but points out the existing disparities within the governments of countries around the world. Jalazai looks at the loss of Hillary Clinton as a reminder that the United States has still not had housed a woman as president.


Overall, Jalazai spent an evening defining the global accessibility that women have to executive positions in government institutions.  She categorized the different circumstances from varied perspective, delved into factors of countries and drew conclusions from these respective factors and the outcomes they have yielded on this isuue.

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