Does The First Woman Leader of a Country Make it Easier for Other Women?

Last week in Australia we saw the first woman leader of the country voted out by her party and she was replaced as leader.Woman Leader

Following Julia Gillard’s departure from the leadership role there was much discussion in the media as to what it meant for women.

I share the story of what happened here in my video.



So the comment that was in question from her speech is …….

” Being the first woman Prime Minister of Australia – it does not explain everything about my Prime Ministership …. nor does it say nothing. ….  It explains some things”    Julia Gillard (former Prime Minister of Australia).

Then she went on to say “what I do say is it will be easier for the next woman, and the one after that and the one after that.”

Will it be easier for the next woman Prime Minister?

The media took varying views on this one and here are some of the comments I heard:

  • It will be easier for the next woman Prime Minister
  • It will be  more difficult for the next woman Prime Minister
  • It will make no difference people are not judged on their gender
  • It will be a long time before anyone wants another woman

I should say in the main it was female journalists making these comments.

It really did get to me thinking about this topic on a broader scale. Is gender still and issue in the corporate world and in business.

Is Gender an Issue in selecting a leader?

I know that the answer to this question  depends where you are living in the world. And even where we enjoy relative equality we see  many more CEOs that are men than women.

Is that because women are discriminated against or because they simply do not want to play at that level?

Is there a Glass Ceiling?

Is there still the invisible barriers for women to get ahead in the workforce?

My Experience

When I graduated as a CPA back in the early 80’s I was one of only a handful of women. Over  thirty years on from that time we now see many woman in that field. But in Australia at least there are not very many women who become partners in Accounting firms. Is that by choice or is it because of a glass ceiling?

I always believed I could do anything that my male colleagues could do. I never felt a glass ceiling – ever! I felt inadequate at times but not because I was a woman, more because I thought I did not know enough. Mainly though I felt I could achieve what the men did.

I never worked for huge Corporates so maybe it is different there but truly I believed nothing could stop me if I wanted something.

I would love to hear your feedback – from both men and women.   What do you think this will mean for future women in politics in Australia? ( and how is it in your country?) Do you believe a glass ceiling still exists? What has been your experience in the work force?

Leave me your feedback and make it a great week.






Sue Price
Skype: sueprice

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30 thoughts on “Does The First Woman Leader of a Country Make it Easier for Other Women?

  1. Donna Merrill

    Hi Sue,

    Well this is a very interesting aspect. It took me a while thinking of it, but I strongly feel inside that in this day and age there is no difference when it comes to gender. I remember a time when there was, but things have rapidly changed.

    In my little corner of the world, I listen to many people that come for counseling. When they are in a corporate position, they usually complain about the women above them rather than the men. I always wondered about that. Do women need to still fight harder to keep their corporate positions and that’s why they are more hard nosed?

    Bottom line, I think it would be easier for another woman to take Julia’s place because whatever the political flair is, I don’t feel like it is a reflection of gender. It is more political.

    So, yes, I think Julia paved the way!

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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Donna

      Ah you have raised a very good point – or perhaps another question. In your comment that some of the women you counsel complain more about the women above them. Yes I do think there are still some women who think it is best to be hard nosed.

      In the case of Julia I think it was political and nothing to do with her being a woman but it was a big topic here last week.

      Ah so you do think it will be easier for the next woman too. I think you are right.

      Bottom line I would hate to be in politics but I love business. We have several women CEOs in Australia now and they are well respected. I would like to see more.

      Thanks for your comment Donna.

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  2. Adrienne

    Gosh Sue, that’s a tough one.

    I sure would hope that gender wouldn’t have anything to do with people’s choices as to whether or not the person running for office was worthy of filling that position. I know that’s still an issue for a lot of people but since you’ve had one already I would think that it would help the situation instead of hurt it.

    Personally I just vote for the best person for the position and I don’t care anything about their gender or color. May the best person hold that position.

    I’ve also seen lots of strides in corporate America too for women holding higher positions so I’m hoping that will remain the case.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😉

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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Adrienne

      I too hope it would not have anything to do with gender but it is interesting the whole topic came up.

      I am not sure what your politicians behave like to each other as we only see some of your campaigning etc. In Australia politicians especially coming up to an election sling the greatest amount of “shit” at each other. It is just horrid to watch. I think it probably happens in American too.

      If anyone has the slightest blemish on their past it is exposed and exaggerate.

      In the corporate world it seems much more like people are judged on ability not on gender or color. As it should be and as you said.

      Thanks for your thoughts on this one Adrienne.

      See you tomorrow.

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  3. Arleen

    I don’t think gender should have anything to do with the person that is in power. It should be based on who is the most qualified. When I started my promotional products business back in the early 90’s and did it on the internet and I was told I was nuts because he was a man’s world for this business. I found that more and more of my customers were happy that the business was run by a woman. The interesting comments I would get is that I really appreciate how compassionate you are about our situation. Women can bring many attributes to the table. The world is changing
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Arleen

      I totally agree it should always be on ability and not to do with gender.

      I find it amazing you were told it was a mans’ world in the 90’s. I bet that made you all the more determined. I know it did me in my days breaking into men’s territory.

      Your experience shows many people like to see a woman running a business. Yes women can bring much to the table and yes the world is changing. I look forward to the day when it is more balanced at the top.

      Thanks for your comment Arleen.

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  4. Sylviane Nuccio

    Hi Sue,

    Well, we, especially women would like to think that we have arrived at a time that being a male or a female makes no difference when it comes to be treated a certain way or being a political leader. However, I think that it still does make a difference.

    It’s only now that in the US, for example, many women are leaders of some political offices, but such offices where occupied only by males only 7 to 10 years ago. As for a female president, I’ve never seen that yet either in the US or Europe.

    When it comes to salaries, it’s a known fact that for the same job a male will make more money than a female.

    So, my answer, is yes, it’s getting better, but unfortunately it’s note quite at 50/50 yet.
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Sylviane

      The stats you quote are very much the same here in Australia so I do think we still have a way to go for equality. But yes as you say we have come a long way and things are getting better.

      I thought France may be a little more advanced than the US. I am not sure why I just did 🙂

      Now maybe Britain was the only western country who has had a woman leader. And as we know Margaret Thatcher was hated by many.

      I cannot wait until we see a day when the best person for the job gets it in both public life and in businesses.

      Thanks for your comment Sylviane. Missed you again yesterday.


      PS – Sylviane I was just responding to Mayura’s comment and became curious as to how many countries had at some stage had a woman leader. In a couple of places it named France – Edith Cresson 1991-92. Is this incorrect?
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  5. Darrell Cherry


    Happy 4th of July! Sorry, forgot, not your holiday!

    I don’t know why there should be any question of sex when discussing or deciding on a political candidate for office. The views of the individual are what should be paramount.

    I’m not sure how it is in Australia, but I don’t think we need news on a female politician’s hair style either. That happens here all the time here. It’s demeaning and reduces the woman who is the target to an object to be judged on appearance first, issues second.

    As far as a glass ceiling I don’t have experience with that, obviously, but I’ve always felt my wife deserves way more than she gets paid. Not sure that counts though!

    BTW, where are the other mens’ opinions here!

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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Darrell

      Saying happy 4th July to me is appropriate as it is my wedding anniversary – so a special day. 🙂

      I hope you had an enjoyable Independence Day.

      Oh yes we do the hair commentary here too. Julie Gillard happened to live with a hairdresser. Now they were not married so she was also the first one with a “partner” as opposed to a husband. But we constantly read articles on her hair. And her fat behind! It was not really fat but the media made terrible comments. I have never seen comments about any male politician’s butt! Yes it does reduce the woman judged on appearance. Very sad!

      The fact you think your wife should be paid more means perhaps the whole glass ceiling thing is still there.

      By the time I got to your comment there are a couple more men here 🙂 I think many may not like commenting on this type of subject.

      Thanks for your contribution here Darrell. I appreciate it.

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  6. Mayura

    Hi Sue,

    Male chauvinism, eh? 🙂 Very interesting topic and I’m sure there will be different kind of views on this matter 😉

    Eventhough the World’s first female prime minister originated from our country, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, we haven’t got so much women leaders in politics yet dear 🙂 Mind you, she revolutionized our country though. We are grateful indeed! Then we had elected a female president too. Her daughter 😉

    I’ve heard a lot of good about Julia Gillard. Especially that she’s not trying to please everyone but do whatever matters. Well, that’s the picture we have got here 😉

    As I feel, the gender issue has a different complexion in modern days among different cultures. It’s not in everyone’s heads but has been there all the time. I’m a firm believer that women could almost do anything that any men could do, even at top levels. We can find rare examples how women proved it beyond that statement too.

    When I read Sylviane’s comment, I feel so bad about salaries. It happens. Mostly here they get paid for the designation, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a male or female. But yet we can point out incidents where females not getting paid enough especially when it comes to sports kind of things Sue.

    Nowadays I find females are in a better place with enough freedom than before. When it comes to workforce, both can be treated equally and it must be.

    However sometimes I find excuses coming up from women too Sue. They think they can’t manage a business just because they are women and they are not born to do it. How lazy! But I’ve come across many scenarios where they had to run their father’s or husband’s business after he’s passed away. They were judging too quickly 😉

    You have a lovely day there Sue 😉

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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Mayura

      Yes it is an interesting topic and probably one not too many people would admit to prejudices about. I can think of a couple of male chauvinists who say they are not.

      So Sri Lanka was first to have a woman? That is very cool. I find it amazing that countries like India, Indonesia and your country have had women leaders but not the US. It says something I think 🙂

      Julia Gillard was not liked here in the end. I am glad she had a better image overseas at least. I think it is not unless you live in a country you really know what goes on.

      Yes the gender issue is of course complex and varies with cultures. Clearly in the middle eastern Muslim cultures the scene is very different than for me here in Australia. Mind you I loved seeing the woman in Egypt marching with their placards and saying they loved Facebook as they could get their voice heard there.

      I am with you too on women not often wanting to run businesses. It also happens here in Australia. I am not so sure that sometimes we women are not our own worst enemy.

      Sylviane’s reference to salaries in the US is the same here too. Legally the awards are the same but it just ends up men often get offered more money. It is getting better all the time though.

      Thanks for your awesome comment Mayura. You have a great weekend.

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  7. Manny

    I would say Yes, it would be easier for other women to become a leader. Donna is right, the age of today is different. Women are now excelling in politics. I think this is now the time to give chance for the women to lead. I’m a man, but I am open minded.
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  8. Tim Bonner

    Hi Sue

    From the experience here in the UK, I’d say it didn’t make it easier for other women after Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister.

    Politics, certainly here in the UK, I believe is very much still an old boys’ network. Whilst many women can rise in the ranks, I’m not sure how easily it would be for another woman to get to the top job.

    Margaret Thatcher divided the UK as a nation and still is the subject of many debates to this day.

    In the workplace, I’d say it’s easier for women to rise to the top jobs. I’ve worked in quite a few offices that have been dominated by women in management.

    From my experience that’s good and bad because women can be even more focussed and ruthless when it comes to getting up the career ladder than many men!
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Tim

      I must say Tim I had the same thought remembering how much Margaret Thatcher was disliked. Even with her passing there were people still saying horrid things about her. As you said still the subject of debates today. I am not sure how factual the movie The Iron Lady was but I am sure it was a reasonable representation of Margaret Thatcher. I am sure her well knows remarks such as “if you want something done, give it to a busy woman” did not endear her to the men of the country.

      I can imagine it would be an old boys network in the UK more than here. Australia is a new country as you know but we were founded by the British and still part of the Commonwealth so a lot of our ways of course were inherited from Britain.

      I agree with what you say about women can be more ruthless in their climb up the ladder. I have seen some pretty ugly behavior by women.

      Julia Gillard was never like Thatcher. She was perhaps too much the other way trying to please everyone rather than making hard decisions. Only time will tell what follows here in Australia.

      Thanks for your feedback Tim.

      Have a nice weekend.

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  9. Radu

    Hello Sue,
    I was in a similar situation where i had a fight with my boss ( women, abt 55 yo) because she was rude and offensive. For this reason i reported her to my her superiors and i got out from her command and got transferred to another division where everything is good now. She was not able to calm a fight nor to give explanations to solve a problem. She was very arrogant and she was not taking any critics especially from me ( i am a new employee), even though that she was mistaken and i pointed out she started to scream and shout that she never mistakes blah blah..
    Anyway, i have nothing against women but sometimes a man can handle better a situation.

    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Radu

      Your boss sounds awful! Hey I know men who behave badly too but it seems to look worse in a woman. I am glad you were able to get away from her. I laughed when you said she says she does not make mistakes. I once had a male boss that was like that.

      Overall I think women and men have a place in management and there are good and bad mangers in each gender.

      Thanks for your feedback here Radu. I appreciate it.

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  10. Silviu

    Hi Sue,

    I am not so interested in politics so this time I will just answer your questions:

    1. I think it will be much, much easier for a woman now to become Prime Minister in your country. The first time is always the toughest because the resistance is fierce.

    2. Yes, gender is an issue in selecting a political leader in most countries. Even the most democratic ones… . Look to USA. How many women President have you seen there?

    3. Yes there is a glass barrier for women in the workforce. It is better than 100 years ago or 50 years ago but the barrier still exist.

    This is the sad truth. We can only hope things will improve in time.

    Have a nice day
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Silviu

      To be totally honest I am not very interested in politics either. So your comment is perfect 🙂

      It is interesting how different the responses have been to my questions. I love that we are all unique. I do though think it will be easier for the next woman in Australia.

      It is interesting that the USA have never had a woman leader and then we have India who has so it seems democracy here has not much to do with it. I googled the countries that have had a woman leader and was quite surprised at the result.

      I also agree there is still a glass ceiling for women but that it is better than it used to be. I am sure over time it will continue to improve.

      Thanks for your comment here Silviu and you have a great day.

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  11. Barbara Charles

    Hi Sue,
    Interesting article. True in most cases as this is a man’s world and has traditionally, in work areas and in politics been a man’s world. I think it is always a struggle for a woman to traditionally break into the ‘man’s realm.’ But it is something that has happened throughout history. There is always a ‘first’ that I think makes the way easier for the next woman and each subsequent woman makes it easier until it becomes the norm as much as a man. That road though I think is hard to travel, particularly for the 1st. I don’t think it makes it harder for the next, in particular if the first did a good job.

    I think it has to do with nature. If I hire a young person under a certain age (that no one of that age has doe the job before), and that person does a good job, then it will make it easier for the next young person. If on the other hand, if the young person did a poor job, it makes it harder for the next. Same with women and politics.

    It takes times to makes adjustments for any change in any situation with any person.

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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Barbara

      You make such good points. Yes there have been breakthroughs right through history for women in such roles. I find it hard to imagine it is not so long ago that women did not get to vote.

      When I was born my mother had to give up her job with the government here as married women could not work in public service. Now we cannot discriminate and maternity leave in Australia is compulsory. That has all happened in my lifetime.

      I love your example of hiring a young person and that being a breakthrough for the next.

      The guy we now have as leader I might add is not being embraced with open arms.. far from it.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation here Barbara.

      Hope you are having a great week.

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      1. Barbara Charles

        Hi Sue,
        I agree and you’re welcome. Many changes in our lifetime that’s for sure most for the good too! 🙂

        If the new guy has to follow in the footsteps of someone who was great, then his job will be even harder. Even a well-liked person always has a hard road to travel when there’s things to clean up or a new path/road to create.

        Great conversation!
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        1. Sue Price Post author

          Hi Barbara

          Yes it is a good conversation. There are so many more layers to it than politics.

          I agree most of the changes in our life time have been good ones.

          I agree it is much harder if the person before has been a bad leader there is stuff to clean up – but if they were good then the next one has a lot to live up to.

          Thanks for adding to this conversation.

          Sue Price recently posted..Do You Know Your Why?My Profile

  12. Priyanks

    Hi Sue,
    Nice article and thanks on a personal note. This situation is very bad and especially in developing or under-developed nations. I am from India and we have some awesome women in politics but the situation not better and it did not seem to get better in near future. I think that there needs a vast change in mentality of this male dominated society.

    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Priyanks

      At least in India you were one of the first nations to have a female leader. The USA has not even done that!

      I agree with you I think it is very sad in this day and age we still have such male dominance. It does need to change.

      Thanks for your comment and feedback.

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  13. Sonia

    I think gender can either help or hinder people’s choices. Of course that is my opinion, but depending on the situation I think people vote or pick individuals based on their lack of or experience. For me, if the person is qualified to do the job, than I would pick the best candidate, but I don’t let gender come into play.

    My dad told me years ago when I wanted to join the Navy that he didn’t think it was for me. When in fact it was his fear of me going into dangerous situations that freaked him out. His fear projected his opinions about what my gender should or shouldn’t do. For me, I could careless.
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    1. Sue Price Post author

      Hi Sonia

      I am like you it has nothing to do with gender for me I chose people on who can do the job. I have always been like that when I employ people too.

      I agree with how it would have been for your Dad around you going into the Navy. As a parent I understand that though and you know I do not think it would be about gender for me. I would not want any of my kids male or female in dangerous war zones. I think that many parents are like this. I am not making it right just the way it usually is. I can be so much more objective with anyone else’s kids than my own.

      It is an interesting topic.

      Thanks for your feedback Sonia.

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