Paper $60.00 ISBN: 9781447315803 Published August 2015 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $111.00 ISBN: 9781447315780 Published October 2014 For sale in North and South America only

Women of Power

Half a Century of Female Presidents and Prime Ministers Worldwide

Torild Skard

Women of Power

Torild Skard

Distributed for Bristol University Press

576 pages | 11 halftones,16 figures, 3 tab | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2 | © 2014
Paper $60.00 ISBN: 9781447315803 Published August 2015 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $111.00 ISBN: 9781447315780 Published October 2014 For sale in North and South America only
At a time when a woman—Angela Merkel—is arguably the most powerful leader in Europe and another—Hilary Clinton—continues to be at the center of the US political stage, it seems that women have broken through the glass ceiling and begun to populate the highest offices of the political world. Women of Power is a testament to that accomplishment, offering the most comprehensive overview of female presidents and prime ministers to date. Looking at over fifty countries and over seventy women leaders since 1960, Torild Skard—herself an experienced politician—examines how and why these women rose to the top and what their leadership has meant for women’s empowerment throughout the latter half of the twentieth century.

Skard examines the achievements and life stories of the world’s female leaders up to the current era. She offers nuanced portraits that draw on a number of materials, including many interviews that she conducted herself. All of the women discussed are organized by both chronology and geography, and Skard includes a number of helpful chapters that provide an overview and assessment of how different women leaders have come to power in different regions. Overall the book provides a fascinating account of women’s empowerment as it has manifested itself at the very top of the political hierarchy.

Breakthrough on several continents
Women in politics
Western industrial countries I
‘Roaring she-tigers’in South Asia
Equilibrists in East Asia
Machism, marianism, modernism in Latin America
Lopsided democracies in the Caribbean
‘Big Chiefs’ in sub-Saharan Africa
Eastern Bloc from communism to capitalism
Western industrial countries II
Where women rose to the top
When women made it

Review Quotes
Katharine Whittemore | Boston Globe
“Skard’s Women of Power insightfully considers some fifty countries and seventy women leaders since 1960. The earliest ones were mostly related to male leaders (Isabel Perón, Indira Gandhi). Later, feminist institutional backing became key: In 1986, Norway’s prime minister Gro Harlem Brutland’s party demanded that all decision-making bodies include forty percent women. And South and Central America sure beat North America: Despite a culture of machismo, women leaders (in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Nicaragua) have been elected partly due to the structural political supports launched by the International Women’s Year World Conference held in Mexico City in 1975. I’ll end by noting that Skard says the glass-ceiling metaphor is wrong. It’s too clear, too straightforward. The better metaphor for women becoming world leaders, and I read this with a shock of recognition, is a labyrinth.”
Choice Magazine:
Winner CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Awards
K. Staudt, University of Texas at El Paso | Choice
“The essential reference on women in power, covering a half-century of women at the political helm of democracies as both presidents and prime ministers. A self-described ‘third-generation feminist,’ Skard brings solid credentials to this mammoth project: she is or has been a scholar, a member of the Norwegian Parliament, UNESCO director for the status of women, and a minister in Norway's cabinet. Skard asks excellent analytic questions about why and how women ascended to top leadership positions and what effect their leadership has on societies. . . . This book belongs in the reference section of all research libraries. Highly recommended.”
Heath Brown | New Books in Political Science
“Skard takes on an enormously ambitious project in her recent book. She seeks out to examine the achievements and life stories of nearly the universe of the world's female political leaders from the 1960s up to the current era. Organized both chronologically and geographically, Skard includes over 70 leaders in 50 countries, and uncovers a variety of paths to power, regional patterns and variation, and fascinating individual stories.”
“From the outset, it is clear that this book, in its study of the transformative potential of women leaders, has an intrinsic power to transform.”
LSE Review of Books
Women of Power is a valuable resource to those who seek an insight into the struggle women have faced in becoming leaders in their own right. Alongside the life histories of the women in question, Skard offers detailed analyses of political developments and gives brief historical overviews of each region at the beginning of each chapter. . . . A highly informative, knowledgeable, and valuable contribution to the fields of gender studies and political history.”
Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights
“This fascinating book on women of power is the first comprehensive overview of how and why women made it to the top of political leadership in the years after World War II until 2010.”
Croatian International Relations Review
“An excellent academic source for both students of gender studies and international relations. It is also an interesting read for those either considering or analyzing careers of female politicians.”
Drude Dahlerup | Stockholm University
“Let’s hope that all the women world leaders of the next 50 years cannot be contained within one volume!”
Vaira Vike-Freiberga | President of Latvia 1999-2007
“Offers a unique overview of the first half-century in history when women in positions of leadership were no longer the exception.”
Marian Sawer | Australian National University
“When, where, and how do women become prime ministers or presidents? Women of Power is a tour de force, providing new insight into regional patterns of global change.”
Öyvind Foss | Academy of Sciences and University of Stavanger, Norway
“A compelling major work on powerful women in international politics in our time. . . . Recommended as a comprehensive and exciting work in global women’s studies during the last fifty years.”
Mary Robinson | President of Ireland 1990-1997
"It is important that we learn lessons from those who went before."
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