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And Voyager was lost in the delta quadrant not the alpha.

Epic Star trek fail Frances. On the bright side you have proof if you want it that you're not a total nerd.

Frances: "Perhaps women are achieving political leadership because the most capable men are pursuing other, more lucrative, opportunities." Care to define "capable" in this sentence? Would your arguments suggest that we should be seeing more women in university administration as well - heads of departments and centres?

Linda - in my faculty, two of the three associate deans, and the one assistant dean, are women. In the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, both of the associate deans are women, though there is one male assistant dean. Over at University of Ottawa, in the faculty of social sciences, three out of three vice-deans are women. It's not that men aren't asked to fill these positions - they are. But the stipend for being an associate dean is trivial compared to the increase in workload. So, yes, as university admin becomes less a matter of dividing the spoils and more a matter of leading a tribe through the wilderness (think Game of Thrones) I expect we will see more women.

Jim, I am blushing. Will fix that right away.

I am not sure that women taking on leadership roles out of principle is anything but a feminist success story. Sure, there can be bad times when the leader of the day has a bad outcome. Consider world war 2 and Winston Churchill -- he lost the very next election decisively to labor but he also became an icon of leadership in tough times.

The people we turn to in tough times have the opportunity to become larger than life characters if they successfully navigate the crisis. In the long run it will create female leaders who inspire young women to dream of also being leaders.

While it may not work out for every individual in these cases (think of how bitter Churchill was at losing the election at the end of WW2), in the long run it will work out to make it clear both genders can be effective leaders.

Is this simply a latency effect. Is this the first time where enough women have made it through the political meat grinder and been available to take an equal share of the top jobs.

All of the current female premiers would have grown up and become politically aware in the late 60's and 70s. It takes at least 20 years of work / life experience before enough of the general public will take a political candidate seriously enough to vote for them, let alone as leader.

Joseph - good point. I'd like to see Kathleen Wynne or any of the other female premiers to down in history as a modern-day Winston Churchill. One Kim Campbell is enough.

Steve - yes, a latency effect is part of what's going on. That's true with academic administration, for example - more associate deans are female in part because a larger proportion of professors are female. But if all we're observing is a latency effect, why aren't 50% of CEOs female? 50% of senior partners in law and accounting firms?

Redford and Clarke being re-elected, even in the face of deep unpopularity of their parties is already a bigger accomplishment than Kim Campbell. I think Wynne is going to have a tough go at holding on.

Andre F - things looked bad for Clarke, too, until she ran a light (or was it a stop sign) while taking her son to an early morning hockey practice, and Adrian Dix imploded. The other question is whether or not sexual orientation matters. That Wynne's sexual orientation seems to be a total non-issue is remarkable when you think about it - it's a real testament to how much attitudes have changed in a relatively short period of time.

But people aren't always completely forthcoming about who they vote for, and why.

Did Janet Yellen inspire this post, by chance? Care to share your thoughts?

Highlander - actually, no. But that's an interesting point. From everything I've heard, Yellen seems to be amply qualified to chair the Fed.

But this is what's nasty about the glass cliff idea: suppose women really are better at heading organizations in times of crisis. Perhaps there's just a perception that women are hired in times of crisis, and there's no real data to back up this perception, it's just some crazy interpolation from 2 data points. It doesn't really matter. Either way, if people think women get called him when there's a crisis ahead, then people will do exactly what I've done in this post - see that women have risen to leadership positions, and proclaim that the end is nigh.

Having said that, I really really worry about the US's fiscal position - I place a much higher probability on a return to 80s levels of inflation than Nick Rowe does (but he's the money macro guy, I'm not). So if Yellen is appointed Chair of the Federal Reserve, it could indeed be another glass cliff moment.

Some people have argued that the glass cliff phenomenon extends to race as well - and the presidency has been something of a poisoned chalice for Obama.

Not sure that the Icelandic Prime Minister and Starship Captain are a large enough sample to base your conclusions. But, Captain Janeway did get them home!

"men are chosen to lead in prosperous times; women are selected to be leaders in times of crisis."

Men make the messes and women clean them up. ;)

Francis, as to why were not at 50% women CEO's, well from my experience in the last 20 years, it is probably simply because most companies are a good 15+ years behind institutions like universities in employing enough women capable of making it to that level.

Having said that, I really really worry about the US's fiscal position - I place a much higher probability on a return to 80s levels of inflation than Nick Rowe does

Why? Since the onset of the present economic course in 2008, we have not had any indication of rising inflation. What we do have is persistently high unemployment. The Bank of Canada has stated that it does not project a return to full economic capacity until 2015.

And please, the "structural unemployment" card is a canard. From Statscan, dated July 19th:

"There were 221,000 job vacancies among Canadian businesses in March, down 24,000 from March 2012. There were 6.4 unemployed people for every job vacancy, up from 5.9 a year earlier, as the decline in vacancies was at a faster pace than the decline in unemployment."

That is, according to the Beveridge Curve we have Involuntary Unemployment; 5.4 unemployed Canadians cannot get a job no matter how hard they try, there just isn't one for them.

This is a signature sign of a Keynesian Demand-based Depression, not a Supply-side based contraction as was seen in the 1970's. It is not the 1970's, it is the 1930's all over again.


Nick's on to something, though Paul Krugman is even better. Or Jim Stanford, if your wish to hear a Canadian voice on the matter.


Wouldn't a bout of inflation significantly improve the US fiscal position? Deficits are already decreasing relatively rapidly, so wouldn't inflation simply increase the rate of decrease in the deficit?

Ben - it wouldn't necessarily increase the rate of decrease in the deficit, but it would slow the rate of increase in the debt (in real terms), because inflation erodes the real value of the government debt. That's precisely why I think inflation will be an irresistible temptation. The US government is dominated by people who have pledged not to increase taxes, and I don't see much room for decreasing expenditures. Yes, it's true that the US debt has gone from catastrophic to merely disastrous levels in the last year or so, but as this article makes clear http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/projections-show-u-s-budget-deficit-will-shrink/?_r=0 without reforms to social security and medicare, things will get worse again in the medium to long term.

That's why I think at some point some government will resort to inflating away the debt - it's one of the oldest and easiest ways of raising revenues.

How can we have a discussion of woman leaders in times of crisis without citing the late, great, Maggie Thatcher? Surely we don't need to look to lightweights like Wynne (who will be lucky to hold on to her minority government in the next election)or Clark to find the modern female Churchill, we already had her.

Maggie Thatcher was a modern Churchill? Oh my, Bob, my head is spinning.

Which Churchill do you mean, the one who rallied Britain in 1940, the clapped-out Yesterday's Man who lost the 1945 Election, the prewar crank whose influence was marginal, the WWI First Lord of the Admiralty who presided over the Gallipoli fiasco which cost him his job, or the tired old man whose premiership from 1950-55 has been forgotten by everybody because it was so unmemorable?

And you aren't seriously comparing the Falklands to WWII, if you are then you really need some perspective.

The best commentary on Margaret Thatcher and Churchill can be found in the "Sound of Maggie", the Spitting Image special on her tenth anniversary in power. Churchill appears as a talking spirit head saying that Maggie embodies everything he found against in WWII and she desperately tries to turn him off....

"almost 90 percent of Canadians live in provinces or territories with female premiers"

As Frances has pointed out, jobs becoming low status tends to correlate with them becoming female dominated (or is it the other way around? Whatever). Maybe the above factoid reflects the job of premier becoming a low status job?


That's an awfully stunted view of a man who was arguably the most successful (and certainly the most interesting) British politician of the first 60 years of the 20th century (with Lady Thatcher being the undisputable winner for the balance of the century). To cite his time as First Lord of the Admiralty and his role in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign is to overlook the fact that, by the start of WWI, he was already one of the most dynamic politicians in British politics (having been a dynamic reformer in the first decade of the century) and the fact that in his term as First Lord he was responsible for many innovative reforms to the Royal Navy(including the conversion to oil). And to dismiss him a pre-WW II crank really is more of a comment on other British politicians of the time, since Churchill's warnings turned out to be prescient. Put differently, I doubt there is a politician alive today who wouldn't trade their resume for his (warts and all) in a heartbeat.

As for comparing Churchill and Thatcher, no one is suggesting that the Falklands are comparable to WWII. Than again, i think few of Thatchers admirers (or critics) point to her smacking around of the Argies (however richly deserved) as the definitive accomplishment (or disaster, as you will) of her career, so that doesn't say much. She is remembered chiefly for her economic and social reforms, not as a wartime leader (though her determination to fight the Argentinians over the Falkland Islands was impressive). And the fact that people (troglodytes) celebrated her death 20 years after she left power is a testament to her lasting impact on British society.


Hasn't it always been?

Seriously, though, you may be on to something. After all one doesn't run to be premier, one runs to be the leader of a political party that may or may not form the government. In the case of Wynne, Clark and Redford, when they won their respective party leaderships, most pundits would have bet against their party winning the next election. So maybe leadership of their party was seen as a low status (ie, loser) position. Hard to think of a lower status position than leader of the provincial opposition.

That's an awfully stunted view of a man who was arguably the most successful (and certainly the most interesting) British politician of the first 60 years of the 20th century (with Lady Thatcher being the undisputable winner for the balance of the century).

It's not stunted, the fact that most people remember his WWII service is stunted. He was the most interesting politician of the 20th Century, but not the most successful. He had a lot of losses and a lot of low points in his career, and his peacetime politics are a mystery to most on this side of the Pond.

Besides, I'll bet Attlee over Thatcher as the better leader. Attlee was voted "Best Prime Minister of the 20th Century. Even Thatcher dared not touch the NHS.

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