When Theresa May became the prime minister of Britain this summer, she joined Northern Ireland’s Arlene Foster and Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon as the first female leaders of their respective parties — a quarter-century after Margaret Thatcher left power. “Even the populist U.K. Independence Party,” reports Katrin Bennhold, “recently elected its first female leader, though her tenure was short.”

The rise of women in politics around the world is certainly striking but, warns Bennhold, “there is a sense in some quarters that rather than shattering a glass ceiling, female leaders risk tumbling down a ‘glass cliff’ — a theory that holds that women are often placed in positions of power when the situation is dire, men are uninterested and the likelihood of success is low.”

Take Prime Minister May’s case, for example. After the disastrous Brexit vote, May and Andrea Leadsom were the only two contenders left standing. Nearly half the voters in the U.K. opposed leaving, while many supporters have unrealistic expectations. Now, whatever May negotiates, no one is likely to be happy.

Read more at The New York Times


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