The long view on the post-EU referendum feminisation of British politics

After diagnosing and suffering from "post-referendum depression", Julie V. Gottlieb grasped a golden opportunity to demonstrate the impact and immediate salience of her research on women in politics since the aftermath of suffrage.

Just over a year ago Julie Gottlieb from the Department of History organised a conference on "Rethinking Right-Wing Women: Gender, Women and the Conservative Party, 1880s to the Present", never imagining Britain would have its second Conservative woman PM so soon. 

The project is ongoing, as she is working with the Conservative Party Archives on 'Conserving Conservative Women' (partly funded by Sheffield Arts Enterprise), and with Clarisse Berthezene (University of Paris). Julie is editing a collection forthcoming with Manchester University Press and a special issue on Conservative women for Women's History Review.

She wrote a blog on “Post-Referendum Depression” (History Matters, 1 July), and this led to an interview by Andrew Castle on LBC Radio talking about the psychological fallout of Brexit. The blog is reposted on the History of Emotion Blog: Conversations about the history of feeling.

The other major consequence of the referendum has been the rise of women, and this follows on directly from her research on Conservative women. She took the initiative to co-author “The Feminising Fallout of the EU Referendum: Is this the New Face of Feminism?” with collaborator Clarisse Berthezene (University of Paris). The blog was first published jointly by the PSA Insights blog and History Matters, and the next day the Huffington Post picked it up (5-6 July).

This attracted more media interest, press and radio. Gottlieb was interviewed on BBC Radio Humberside (8 July), a long interview on BBC Radio Sheffield (12 July), and she was invited on to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour talking about whether women can clean up the man-made mess in politics (18 July).

She was interviewed for and quoted by Jamie Tarabay for her article “And Now for the Ritual Thatcher Comparisons”, The Atlantic, 13 July.

She was quoted at length by Chris Bond in his editorial “Theresa May and the rise of female political leaders”, Yorkshire Post, 17 July, 2016.

In order to reach out to an even more diverse and younger audience, Gottlieb accepted the challenge of writing about the emotional fallout of the referendum and women’s political leadership for First News (directed to children, and boasting 2 million readers). Her article "Women in Politics" appeared in First News on 22 July.

With Theresa May installed as Prime Minister, Gottlieb has tried to situate her in the history of feminism and women's conservatism, and the political spaces where the two have intertwined. She wrote "This MAY be Tory Feminism: Britain's Second Woman PM is not Margaret Thatcher Mark II," that was published by Huffington Post on 19 July, and reposted by the PSA Insights blog and the LSE's Democratic Audit blog, as well as generating quite a lot of activity on Twitter

When it rains it pours, and the last few weeks have also seen the publication online of her article "Neville Chamberlain's Umbrella: 'Object Lessons' in the History of Appeasement," TCBH, and two reviews of 'Guilty Women' on Reviews in History and the French Journal of British Studies.

Tags: historyTheresa May, conservative party, women, feminism