Women as National Leaders

In This Review

Women as National Leaders

By Michael A. Genovese
Sage Publications, 1992
241 pp. $46.00

This interesting volume contains case studies of the careers of the handful of women who have emerged in recent years as national leaders: Corazon Aquino, Benazir Bhutto, Violeta Chamorro, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir and, of course, Margaret Thatcher. It examines the proposition of some feminists that women, "as keepers of the values of social justice, nurturance and honesty," could rid their nations of conflicts, corruption and greed if they held leadership positions. Unfortunately, the case studies do not bear this out. The most effective women leaders (Gandhi, Meir and Thatcher) were those exhibiting decidedly "masculine" virtues, including a steely readiness to go to war when that was called for. By contrast, the most "feminine" leader, Cory Aquino (whom the book treats rather gently), was by far the weakest and most ineffectual. Whether this simply reflects old habits of the mind, as the book suggests, or the more enduring requirements of national leadership remains an open question.

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