Women in Public Spaces, past and present

Holly Ashford

Whether it’s rape threats for remainers, the constant commentary on Theresa May’s shoes, or the misogyny that seems to follow Dianne Abbott wherever she goes, the public sphere is not a welcoming space for women in 2019. But why are we surprised? When has it ever been? Well, according to a fascinating paper by Cambridge University’s, Harry Mace, given at our workshop last week, there was a brief moment in the 1920s and 30s in which it seemed like French women were going to have an –albeit proportionately limited – place in diplomatic life. It was short-lived. By the 1940s, women were routinely being called back to Paris and demoted. So was the interwar period an anomaly? Why did things change for French women in the public sphere after the Second World War? By exploring these questions, Harry says, we can better understand the challenges that face our public and political establishments today.

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