Rethinking right-wing women

Gender and the Conservative Party, 1880s to the present

Edited by Clarisse Berthezène and Julie Gottlieb

Rethinking right-wing women


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9438-9
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: December 2017
  • BIC Category: Politics, Politics & government, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Society & social sciences / Comparative politics
  • Series: New Perspectives on the Right


Rethinking Right-Wing Women explores the institutional structures for and the representations, mobilisation, and the political careers of women in the British Conservative Party since the late 19th century. From the Primrose League (est.1883) to Women2Win (est.2005), the party has exploited women's political commitment and their social power from the grass-roots to the heights of the establishment. Yet, although it is the party that extended the equal franchise, had the first woman MP to sit Parliament, and produced the first two women Prime Ministers, the UK Conservative Party has developed political roles for women that jar with feminist and progressive agendas. Conservative women have tended to be more concerned about the fulfilment of women's duties than the realisation of women's rights. This book tackles the ambivalences between women's politicisation and women's emancipation in the history of Britain's most electorally successful and hegemonic political party.


'The ability of this volume to cover the vast span of time with depth and detail makes it a vital addition for anyone trying to understand the Conservative Party and the women within it. This edited volume gives readers insight into the right-wing women often ignored given the growing connection of women with left-leaning parties. It is particularly timely given the rise in right-wing politics globally. The volume has a little bit for everyone, whether interested in specific Conservative women, the history and nature of the party, or how it has adapted to changing cultural times.'
Journal of Women, Politics & Policy


Introduction: Clarisse Berthezène & Julie Gottlieb
1. 'Open the eyes of England': female unionism and conservatism, 1886-1914 - Diane Urquhart
2. Christabel Pankhurst - A Conservative suffragette? - June Purvis
3. At the heart of the party? The women's Conservative organisation in the age of partial suffrage, 1914-1928 - David Thackeray
4. Conservative women and the Primrose League's struggle for survival, 1914-1932 - Matthew Hendley
5. Modes and models of Conservative women's leadership in the 1930s - Julie Gottlieb
6. The middlebrow and the making of a 'new common sense': Women's voluntarism, Conservative politics and representations of womanhood - Clarisse Berthezène
7. Churchill, women, and the politics of gender - Richard Toye
8. 'The Statutory Woman whose Main Task was to Explore what Women were Likely to Think.' Margaret Thatcher and Women's Politics in the 1950s and 1960s - Krista Cowman
9. Conservatism, gender and the politics of everyday life, 1950s-1980s - Adrian Bingham
10. Feminist responses to Thatcher and Thatcherism - Laura Beers
11. The (feminised) contemporary Conservative party - Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs
12. Conserving Conservative women: A view from the archives - Jeremy McIlwaine
13. Women2Win and the feminization of the UK Conservative party - Baroness Ann Jenkin with an introduction by Sarah Childs


Clarisse Berthezène is Lecturer at the University of Paris Diderot
Julie V. Gottlieb is Reader in Modern History at the University of Sheffield

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