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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $20.99

136 pp.
5" x 8"


Publication date:
April 2009

Imprint: OUP Canada

Women, Power, Politics

The Hidden Story of Canada's Unfinished Democracy

Sylvia Bashevkin

Women's participation in politics matters very much.

Yet in Canada, women MPs have been stuck at a level of roughly one-fifth since 1993, and Stephen Harper has fewer women in his government than did Brian Mulroney. Although we may believe women are making progress, their representation in politics seems decidedly stalled. So it comes as no surprise that we hear little about issues of particular interest to women--breast cancer, violence against women, or the poverty of single mothers.

In this engaging, no-nonsense, and witty book, Sylvia Bashevkin argues that Canadians have a profound unease with women in positions of political authority--what she calls the "women plus power equals discomfort" equation. She explores the specific reasons why this discomfort is particularly severe in Canada. Bashevkin also evaluates a range of barriers faced by women who enter politics, including the media's role in assessing the leadership styles, personal appearances, and private lives of female politicians. In clear, accessible terms, Bashevkin explains concepts such as "gender schemas" and "media framing" in terms of key examples, such as Belinda Stronach and Hillary Clinton.

Finally, Bashevkin outlines some compelling solutions to address the stalemate facing women in Canadian politics.

Readership : This will be of interest to the general trade as well as a range of courses in first-year political science and women's studies in Canada.


  • "Bashevkin has written a thoughtful, provocative and accessible book... A particularly useful and timely primer for all those Canadians - women and men - who accept the premise of her title: that the dramatic under-representation of women in our political leadership is the unfinished business of Canadian democracy."

    Rt Hon Kim Campbell, first female Prime Minister of Canada
  • "A stimulating, accessible and practical guide... Combined with electoral reform, [Bashevkin's] insights will go a long way in helping to correct our democratic deficit."

    June Macdonald, chair of Women for Fair Voting, Fair Vote Canada
  • "A lucid, smart and helpful examination of why women mostly fail in politics in Canada, and what can be done about it. Women, Power, Politics should be marked Urgent on the Prime Minister's reading list."

    Rosemary Speirs, former national political columnist for the Toronto Star, and founding chair of Equal Voice

1. Introduction
2. Discomfort zones
3. Plus perfect figures
4. Vexatious vixens
5. Pincer movements
6. What to do

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Sylvia Bashevkin is Professor of Political Science and Principal of University College at the University of Toronto. She has received "Canada 's Most Powerful Women: Top 100" Award, and has also served as President of both the Canadian Political Science Association and the Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association.

Canadian Democracy - Stephen Brooks
Women and Electoral Politics in Canada - Edited by Manon Tremblay and Linda Trimble
Citizen Politics - Joanna Everitt and Brenda O'Neill
Political Parties, Representation, and Electoral Democracy in Canada - Edited by William Cross
Regionalism and Party Politics in Canada - Edited by Lisa Young and Keith Archer

Special Features

  • High-profile author takes a straight-talking and often humorous look at the decline of women in power in Canadian politics.
  • Short, interesting, highly readable chapters consider the role played by the media as well as by our own attitudes.
  • Interesting, relevant examples include Belinda Stronach, Hillary Clinton, and Kim Campbell.