Thatcher: most influential woman of the last 70 years (x3 images; unsure needs to double check)

by Jan 11, 20173Plus, 3Plus online e-Gazine for professional women, Conversations about leadership, Culture, In the news, Leadership, Opinion, Women who Inspire

Did Margaret Thatcher do more for women than we think?

So Margaret Thatcher has been voted the most influential woman of the last 70 years. This is a person, who, with respect, generates some major emotions when her name is spoken!

There are people who idolise her, and others who hold her responsible for destroying the heavy industry of the United Kingdom, OR that she was the ‘milk snatcher’ of school children. Read the article about this poll here.

Thatcher

I know this article will provoke some passionate thought: both for and against the individual. But here goes…

Personally, I believe the policies of the Conservative Party (and Thatcher) during the 1980s DID result in the demise of heavy industry – particularly the Mining industry, HOWEVER, it was inevitable, and personally it could have been dealt with in a different way, so there was other employment available for the workforce – rather than communities being impacted with most of the workforce being unemployed.

However, [Tweet “as a politician and a woman I DO admire her.”] When I was growing up in the 70s, women’s voices were not heard. It was rare to have women reading the news (the coverage when there were first female news readers was astonishing); women’s opinions were rarely heard; in the church no women’s voices were heard as no women were ordained until the 90s. It was a very different world where there were few female role models and very, very few female politicians.

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Although there had been other female leaders internationally before, this was the first time a ‘major’ country had a female leader and she was HEARD! She was, and still is a phenomenon on that front.

Of course people always mention Thatcher’s voice and the fact it she received vocal training to lower the pitch. Thatcher had a high-pitched voice and it became strident and screechy when she raised her voice or became stressed. This wasn’t ideal: particularly for the audience of upper middle class men that occupied the Conservative Party at the time.

Read: How your voice impacts your Executive Presence

As well as her gender, Thatcher’s background made it remarkable that she was so successful. The Conservative party of the 1970s was still largely dominated by very privileged, upper middle class men. Thatcher was from a less privileged background; had worked very hard to win a scholarship to study at Oxford University; and when she decided to run for parliament, she was the only female candidate. She had to be pushed to be  heard: not only because of her background but also her gender.

 

Of course, the previous leader of the Conservatives (Edward Heath) was also not from a ‘traditional’ Tory background of the time but the combination of a female leader AND her background meant the party was completely outside its comfort zone. Yet people recognised her work ethic, her vision, passion and ability to command a stage – even at international level.

During her time as PM and after she left office, it became less strange for women to be heard – although I appreciate there is still a way to go. But her presence on the international stage and also at national political level meant that the misogynist myth that women weren’t capable of leading or that their opinions weren’t valid was quashed. So like her or loathe her, Thatcher really had a major influence for women over the last 70 years. What do you think?

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Susan Heaton Wright Contributor
Susan Heaton-Wright is a global Virtual impact, communications and speaking trainer for corporate clients. She empowers talented people to create memorable and engaging business conversations. She is the creator of the Superstar Communicator™ methodology: an international speaker; the MD of award winning music company, Viva Live Music, podcaster and a former prize winning international opera singer. She delivers virtual seminars, workshops and individual training for many companies including Astra Zeneca, Deloitte, RBS, Shell, Microsoft, AAP, Invesco, AXA, the NHS and Quintiles. She is regularly interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live; BBC2, local radios and international podcasts. In 2020, she was named as an #ialso 100 top inspirational female entrepreneur in UK.
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