Glass Cliffs? Gender and Party Leader Exits

Glass Cliffs? Gender and Party Leader Exits

The number of women chosen to lead political parties at the provincial and federal level in Canada has increased in recent years. The improving trend in their selection does not, however, appear to be matched by the nature of their exits. In 2014 alone, three of five sitting premiers - Kathy Dunderdale, Alison Redford and Pauline Marois - resigned their posts after relatively brief tenures and particularly harsh treatment from their parties, the media and the general public. Using data on all party leaders selected between 1980 and 2017 at both levels of government in Canada, the talk examines the gendered nature of party leader exits. Are women party leaders in a more precarious position than men, and at greater risk of failure and criticism? The data suggest that the rules of the game differ for the women and men who lead political parties in Canada.

Brenda O'Neill is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary. Her current research interests include gender and political party leadership, the Canadian feminist movement and the changing nature of political and civic engagement. She is currently working with David Stewart (Calgary) on a book-length project investigating party leadership at the federal and provincial levels in Canada, as well as continuing her examination of the opinions and activities of contemporary Canadian feminists. She has published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Party Politics and the International Political Science Review. She currently serves as English language Co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Date & time

Thu 08 Mar 2018, 12–2pm


L.J. Hume Centre, Copland Building


Dr. Brenda O’Neill


Feodor Snagovsky


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