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Letting Down the Ladder or Shutting the Door: Female Prime Ministers, Party Leaders, and Cabinet Ministers

  • Diana Z. O'Brien (a1), Matthew Mendez (a2), Jordan Carr Peterson (a3) and Jihyun Shin (a3)

In October 2012 the Danish Socialist People's Party chose Annette Vilhelmsen as its leader. With her ascension to power, women simultaneously headed all three of Denmark's governing parties for the first time. Though an exclusively female-led coalition government remains exceptional, in developed democracies the number of female prime ministers and party leaders has grown in recent years. Since 2000, women have governed in Denmark, Germany, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, and Australia and have commanded coalition partner parties in Austria, Ireland, and Sweden. Just as there are now more female leaders, governments are also nominating more women to cabinets than ever before. Women recently held half of all ministerial posts in Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Spain. Female ministers are also serving in high-prestige portfolios from which they were traditionally excluded, including finance and foreign affairs.

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