I assumed the word 'Prime Minister' meant a woman

When John Major took over in 1991, and the news reporters called the Prime Minister ‘he’, I experienced real cognitive dissonance.

Margaret Thatcher has died aged 87.

There will be many analyses of her legacy in the next few days.  My sense is that not only the inequalities, but how we deal with the inequalities, is down to the actions of her Government.

Here’s an immediate thought, not related to her policies:  I grew up assuming that the word ‘Prime Minister’ necessarily meant a woman.  Just as maleness is a ‘necessary characteristic’ of James Bond, for me, femaleness was a necessary characteristic of a Prime Minister.

There’s some dialogue near the start of Mary Poppins, where Mrs Banks (the suffragette) says that they planned to picket the Prime Minister, and refers to him. As a kid, watching that film a lot, I always found that weird.  Likewise, when John Major took over in 1991, and the news reporters called the Prime Minister ‘he’, I experienced real cognitive dissonance.

Update

According to the data published by the Guardian, the gender pay gap actually increased during Thatcher’s premiership.  However, woman’s full time pay, as a percentage of men’s, did increase.

1 thought on “I assumed the word 'Prime Minister' meant a woman”

  1. Yes. Children very often either over- or under-extend concepts when they haven’t had a lot of examples to learn from, or haven’t yet worked out what are the relevant features.
    I first learned what a Prime Minister was the day she got elected, but I also remember being told that the excitement about it was that she was a woman. It had to be explained to me why that was noteworthy.

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