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The Women Who Shaped Politics: Empowering stories of women who have shifted the political landscape

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Sophy Ridge, presenter for Sky News, has uncovered the extraordinary stories of the women who have shaped British politics. Never has the role of women in the political world ever been more on the news agenda, and Sophy has interviewed current and former politicians including among others, Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, Betty Boothroyd gain exclusive insight into the role Sophy Ridge, presenter for Sky News, has uncovered the extraordinary stories of the women who have shaped British politics. Never has the role of women in the political world ever been more on the news agenda, and Sophy has interviewed current and former politicians including among others, Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, Betty Boothroyd gain exclusive insight into the role women play in politics at the highest level. The book also includes Theresa May's first at-length interview about her journey to becoming Prime Minister. These interviews have revealed the shocking truth about the sexism that is rife among the House of Commons both in the past and today, with sometimes shocking, and sometimes amusing anecdotes revealing how women in Westminster have worked to counter the gender bias. Sophy provides gripping insight into historical and contemporary stories which will fascinate not just those interested in politics but those who want to know more about women's vital role in democracy. From royalty to writers and from class warriors to suffragettes, Sophy tells the story of those who put their lives on the line for equal rights, and those who were the first to set foot inside the chambers of power, bringing together stories that you may think you know, and stories that have recently been discovered to reveal the truth about what it is to be a woman in Westminster. This book is a celebration of the differing ways that women have shaped the political landscape. The book also, importantly, sheds light on the challenges faced by women in government today, telling us the ways that women working in politics battle the sexism that confront them on a daily basis.


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Sophy Ridge, presenter for Sky News, has uncovered the extraordinary stories of the women who have shaped British politics. Never has the role of women in the political world ever been more on the news agenda, and Sophy has interviewed current and former politicians including among others, Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, Betty Boothroyd gain exclusive insight into the role Sophy Ridge, presenter for Sky News, has uncovered the extraordinary stories of the women who have shaped British politics. Never has the role of women in the political world ever been more on the news agenda, and Sophy has interviewed current and former politicians including among others, Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson, Betty Boothroyd gain exclusive insight into the role women play in politics at the highest level. The book also includes Theresa May's first at-length interview about her journey to becoming Prime Minister. These interviews have revealed the shocking truth about the sexism that is rife among the House of Commons both in the past and today, with sometimes shocking, and sometimes amusing anecdotes revealing how women in Westminster have worked to counter the gender bias. Sophy provides gripping insight into historical and contemporary stories which will fascinate not just those interested in politics but those who want to know more about women's vital role in democracy. From royalty to writers and from class warriors to suffragettes, Sophy tells the story of those who put their lives on the line for equal rights, and those who were the first to set foot inside the chambers of power, bringing together stories that you may think you know, and stories that have recently been discovered to reveal the truth about what it is to be a woman in Westminster. This book is a celebration of the differing ways that women have shaped the political landscape. The book also, importantly, sheds light on the challenges faced by women in government today, telling us the ways that women working in politics battle the sexism that confront them on a daily basis.

30 review for The Women Who Shaped Politics: Empowering stories of women who have shifted the political landscape

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was brilliant. Similar in some ways to A History of Britain in 21 Women, but much more detailed and (obviously given the title) politics focused. I'm kind of biased but I think this should be required reading at schools. As someone who is interested in politics I thought I'd be familiar with a lot of the names here, but even a lot of the more recent women featured were new to me. Set to the background of the historical context at the time, I also learnt a lot about Parliament and Westminster This was brilliant. Similar in some ways to A History of Britain in 21 Women, but much more detailed and (obviously given the title) politics focused. I'm kind of biased but I think this should be required reading at schools. As someone who is interested in politics I thought I'd be familiar with a lot of the names here, but even a lot of the more recent women featured were new to me. Set to the background of the historical context at the time, I also learnt a lot about Parliament and Westminster, and late 19th to early and mid 20th century history. The two sections I enjoyed the most - and probably learnt most from - were the parts on suffragettes and the suffrage movement; and the mid 20th century chapter about MPs like Barbara Castle and Shirley Williams. Of course our two female PMs feature heavily here too, and I finished the book feeling like I have a lot more respect for Theresa May especially. Highly recommended for anyone, but particularly those with an interest in (British) politics.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Chowdory

    FINALLY I have finished this excellent book. This was incredibly interesting for me, and has actually influenced the way that I want to do certain things in my career going forwards. I WISH this were the sort of thing that was taught in schools or even at university level. I can confirm that during my 3 year university course on Politics, none of these women were mentioned. None. Apart from the guys in my class that were obsessed with Tony Benn (for whatever reason). My only gripe is that it is FINALLY I have finished this excellent book. This was incredibly interesting for me, and has actually influenced the way that I want to do certain things in my career going forwards. I WISH this were the sort of thing that was taught in schools or even at university level. I can confirm that during my 3 year university course on Politics, none of these women were mentioned. None. Apart from the guys in my class that were obsessed with Tony Benn (for whatever reason). My only gripe is that it is a bit of a whitewash and if you read this, you would think that (like America) no one but white people were able to affect change. Which just isn't true. I appreciate that Ridge probably had a pretty strict brief but...well it seems like a bit of a copout. Not sure why someone like Olive Morris wasn't included, and Diane Abbott is only worth of a few pages (paragraphs really). I know that publishing struggles to acknowledge people who aren't white, but it's scary when they aren't included in history overviews.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Esme Kemp

    Something tells me Sophy Ridge is a Tory... and believes the Women who Shaped Politics were all white. Disappointing lack of diversity. Dianne Abbott gets a token mention in less than a paragraph in all 295 pages. NO mention whatsoever of the different challenges facing black women or women of colour in UK politics. Insight into the House of Commons was nice tho and reaffirmed that it’s just one big fuck off boys club. Felt quite a spot O’ pride for Theresa may at the end as well which was a new Something tells me Sophy Ridge is a Tory... and believes the Women who Shaped Politics were all white. Disappointing lack of diversity. Dianne Abbott gets a token mention in less than a paragraph in all 295 pages. NO mention whatsoever of the different challenges facing black women or women of colour in UK politics. Insight into the House of Commons was nice tho and reaffirmed that it’s just one big fuck off boys club. Felt quite a spot O’ pride for Theresa may at the end as well which was a new experience. Humanising Maggie Thatcher though is a feat in itself and for that Sophy Ridge I award you - 2 points! (To be said in Dumbledore-esque fashion at the end of year feast).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Very engaging book, each chapter dealing with a different female or females and how they have had a political impact. Very informative, learnt lots and had some points (such as the two different aspects of the suffragette movement) put across in a different way than usual. Well written, easy to read, but insightful, well worth reading 4.5-5 stars (also slightly frustrating reading the various anecdotes of poor behaviour by political males and their attitude to women, but then just as interesting Very engaging book, each chapter dealing with a different female or females and how they have had a political impact. Very informative, learnt lots and had some points (such as the two different aspects of the suffragette movement) put across in a different way than usual. Well written, easy to read, but insightful, well worth reading 4.5-5 stars (also slightly frustrating reading the various anecdotes of poor behaviour by political males and their attitude to women, but then just as interesting to read the different female opinions of how to tackle such behaviour, thought provoking

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emma Dargue

    Really enjoyable, engaging and interesting look at women in politics from elected MPs such as Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May and many others to women who although not elected to higher office made an impact on the social and political life of the Great Britain and her overseas interests. 4.5 to 5 stars.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sinan Cetin

    Acceptable account of significance of women in British politics. The historical roots of today's increasing influence of female politicians is well-written and not dull, at least. Nevertheless, it is possible to find better historical accounts than this one if you are interested in women in British politics... Acceptable account of significance of women in British politics. The historical roots of today's increasing influence of female politicians is well-written and not dull, at least. Nevertheless, it is possible to find better historical accounts than this one if you are interested in women in British politics...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Niamh

    Because this non-fiction book focuses on politics in the UK and Ireland and the women throughout the history of Parliament (which is long and complicated if you didn't learn about it in primary school) and their shaky position in power. Currently, we have a female prime minister, who is subject to much scrutiny not only because she's the leader of the country, but for her own existence as a female. This book goes between the early women who shaped politics, including the first female to be elect Because this non-fiction book focuses on politics in the UK and Ireland and the women throughout the history of Parliament (which is long and complicated if you didn't learn about it in primary school) and their shaky position in power. Currently, we have a female prime minister, who is subject to much scrutiny not only because she's the leader of the country, but for her own existence as a female. This book goes between the early women who shaped politics, including the first female to be elected to Parliament in 1918 (a Sinn Fein MP who, like the entire party, refused to take her seat in protest against the British), to the first female cabinet member, first speaker of the house and of course, Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister. Ridge takes us right up to the present day, discussing the political position as the UK currently exists- from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to the members of the labour leadership race who lost to Jeremy Corbyn. What this book points out is though we have made a great deal of strides towards gender equality in our politics, we are still a long way off from being anywhere close to equal. The Labour Party, the second biggest political party in the UK and supposedly the left-leaning one, has yet to elect a female leader, let alone have one run for Prime Minister, yet the Conservatives have had two female leaders- both of whom have been Prime Minister. While other parts of the UK- Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales- have elected women as leaders of their party, England is remaining in the back water. Women are continually subjected to unwanted observation from the British tabloids about their appearance, clothing choices and hairstyles- not their policies. As Sophy Ridge points out in the book, the male leaders of the party all do believe in gender equality, but they have to be reminded to implement systems where gender equality can be seen. Anyone who is interested in politics or feminism and gender equality should definitely read this book. There's motivational moments where past pioneers encourage us to get involved, to start doing something to help advance women's position in the UK Government. It's important for us to know the history of the women who came before us, and Ridge's book goes into great detail about who they were, what they changed, and who we should we look out for in the future.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Meliha Avdic

    I loved it! I only wish there were more examples of the pioneers, the women in the past who fought hard and it seems like they failed (i.e. they didn't achieve what they set out to achieve) but if they hadn't done what they did, we'd be nowhere. Their efforts seem like a failure only because we expected more. They achieved as much as they could. And some suffered greatly. But, the book does mention some. And I do like the way that they are mentioned. I just like the way this book is written. I re I loved it! I only wish there were more examples of the pioneers, the women in the past who fought hard and it seems like they failed (i.e. they didn't achieve what they set out to achieve) but if they hadn't done what they did, we'd be nowhere. Their efforts seem like a failure only because we expected more. They achieved as much as they could. And some suffered greatly. But, the book does mention some. And I do like the way that they are mentioned. I just like the way this book is written. I remember one saying how glad she is that she didn't mess up her child. I won't say more. Read the book. Highly recomend it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Richard Howard

    This is a superb look at the women who have shaped British politics. The author has no ideological axe to grind and treats women on all sides of the political divide with respect and attention letting them, wherever possible, provide their views in their own words. She does not, however, refrain from pointing out the appalling misogyny that has dominated British politics for too long. I was shocked at how persistent these attitudes are and how reluctantly they have been changed, always by action This is a superb look at the women who have shaped British politics. The author has no ideological axe to grind and treats women on all sides of the political divide with respect and attention letting them, wherever possible, provide their views in their own words. She does not, however, refrain from pointing out the appalling misogyny that has dominated British politics for too long. I was shocked at how persistent these attitudes are and how reluctantly they have been changed, always by action taken by brave and forceful women.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

    *3.5 I did enjoy reading this book as politics is one of my favourite subjects. For me there could have been some more focus on Scottish and Welsh politics. One former female politician in Scotland was not even so much as mentioned in this book (Winnie Ewing) I would have liked to have read more about Leanne Wood (Leader of Plaid Cymru) and Kezia Dugdale (Former leader of the Labour Party in Scotland)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    A great, accessible introduction to the women who have impacted British politics.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alys

    Very accessible introduction to the history of women in politics but not enough discussion of the struggles of women of colour.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Fantastic read and incredibly eye opening. I was absolutely hooked from the beginning.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Hall

    Very interesting and enjoyable book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Radley

    An absolutely fascinating and intriguing stories of who and how women shaped politics for today. Definitely inspirational read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine

    It's a while since I read this - during my inadvertent hiatus on reviewing books I read. And now I'd quite like to read it again. Very readable, and a great sprint through history - with chapters on Queens, Writers, Campaigners, Suffragists, Militants and so on, right down to "The New Rebels" (Sturgeon, Davidson, Lucas) and the final chapter, Prime Minister and Parliamentarian, about Theresa May. I think it's the sort of book that anyone with an interest in UK politics or political history should It's a while since I read this - during my inadvertent hiatus on reviewing books I read. And now I'd quite like to read it again. Very readable, and a great sprint through history - with chapters on Queens, Writers, Campaigners, Suffragists, Militants and so on, right down to "The New Rebels" (Sturgeon, Davidson, Lucas) and the final chapter, Prime Minister and Parliamentarian, about Theresa May. I think it's the sort of book that anyone with an interest in UK politics or political history should read. In theory, it's a bit flawed because, by definition, it's of the Great Women school of history. However, it's not really about them as people but very much about their roles and how their actions changed UK politics. I suspect that it's a popular book with women like me, women who have spent their entire adult (and teen) life emerged in politics, women who are frustrated when so much (politics, crime drama, sport) is from a male point of view. I imagine that most men with similar backgrounds and interests will perceive this as being a bit marginal, one of those drilling down to detail books that one can take or leave. Which is a pity. Not just because, obviously, women are 52% of the population, and you can't understand politics if you only know how politics serves men. But, unless you know how and why politics has constantly marginalised women, you're not really doing your politics or history properly. So, a very good book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mersonadele

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Curtis

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate Dearden

  20. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  25. 4 out of 5

    Johanne

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nicky Whiting

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Finn

  28. 5 out of 5

    Becca

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathrin

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