HKS Authors

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Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy

Abstract

Thirty years ago, I was a young woman living and working in London. In those days, Britain was a class-bound and male-dominated society, where over half of the working population belonged to powerful trade unions. Fewer than 15 percent of high school graduates went on to college. Given a choice, married women with children simply didn’t work outside the home. A grocer’s daughter named Margaret Thatcher shattered the glass ceiling in multiple ways. She studied chemistry at Oxford; after graduation she was rejected for a job after the company’s personnel department assessed her as “headstrong, obstinate and dangerously self-opinionated.” She entered parliament as an MP after two unsuccessful attempts and eventually rose to become the first woman to lead a British political party before becoming Prime Minister. She broke the trade unions, won two more elections, and was the hailed as the most remarkable British leader since Winston Churchill.

Citation

Bilmes, Linda J. "Giving Margaret Thatcher The Feminist Cred She Deserves — And Would Have Hated." WBUR Cognoscenti, April 17, 2013.