Books for Prisoners: Protecting the ‘perks and privileges’ of reading

In July the Howard League called on people to send books directly to justice secretary Chris Grayling, asking that he forward them onto prisoners. Their Books for Prisoners campaign aims to overturn a ruling by the Ministry of Justice that controversially banned the sending of books to prisoners, classifying them as ‘perks and privileges’.

Policy Press asked our author Peter Wallis to share his views on the ban and why he believes the access to books by prisoners needs to be reframed as necessary and essential.

Author Peter Wallis

Author Peter Wallis ‘shocked and saddened’ by book ban

‘If you randomly select 100 people aged 15-18 in custody, 55 will not have had access to full time education prior to custody, and 28 will have had no education at all.’ Peter Wallis, Understanding Restorative Justice

I was shocked and saddened by the news that Ministry of Justice rules may prevent prisoners from receiving books from outside. I started thinking of the lifeline that the written word can provide for those locked away from society.

I thought of Stories Connect, where prisoners discuss books and literature in prisons such as HMP Channings Wood, where one inmate said: “Stories Connect didn’t just change my life, it saved it”. I thought of the psychotherapist Murray Cox who introduced Shakespeare into Broadmoor, which now has regular performances from the RSC. I thought of the work of the Prison Phoenix Trust, which encourages prisoners to consider their time in their cells as an opportunity for spiritual growth. Hundreds of books are sent each year to prisoners to introduce them to the practices of meditation and yoga.

Personal

On a more personal note, I thought of my grandfather, who served three and a half years in solitary confinement at HMP Ipswich and in Wormwood Scrubs as a conscientious objector in the First World War. He spent his time in his cell learning German in the hope of contributing to attempts towards reconciliation with the enemy when the war was over, moving his family to Berlin soon after the war ended.

“It seems desperately short-sighted to stop books being sent to prisoners.”

I believe that during his time in prison my grandfather was rationed to 6 books, and was also limited in the amount of paper he could use for correspondence, often sending his letters to his mother in miniscule writing on toilet paper.

It seems desperately short-sighted to stop books being sent to prisoners, many of whom have had little or no previous educational opportunities.

Guardian journalist Erwin James received all of his education inside prison. Surely the government wants to boost any opportunity to enable our most marginalised and poorly educated citizens to feel connected and part of society. How much better by encouraging reading rather than endless gym sessions, TV or computer games?

Understanding restorative justice: How empathy can close the gap created by crime by Peter Wallis is published by Policy Press and available at a discounted rate from our website.  Policy Press will be sending a copy of Peter’s book to Chris Grayling, requesting he pass it onto prisoners as part of the Howard League’s Books for Prisoners campaign.

Where does a book begin?

As part of our special ‘A year in the life of an academic writer’ series,  Policy Press author and independent researcher Helen Kara shares her thoughts on how a book begins to get written.

Helen KaraWhen you pick a book off the shelf, chances are the beginning will be at the front of book. It may even be called an introduction, or a preface, or Chapter One. This is helpful for readers; they know where to start reading. But as a writer, where does a book begin to be written?

It begins with love.

Fairy_passage

“…my parents’ shared love of books bestowed on me, like good fairies planning for a royal christening”

You have to love stories to write good books, even the academic kind. My love of books and stories began with my parents’ shared love of books which they decided to bestow on me, like good fairies planning for a royal christening, before I was born. As a grabby infant, forbidden to hold books until my motor skills improved, prohibition made the physical articles desirable. And, like many children who grow up to be writers, I begged my parents to read to me stories until I could read for myself. That was where my love of stories began.

It begins with desire.

I’ve wanted to write stories ever since I knew people could be authors. I wrote my first book at the age of eight, in my best joined-up writing, using up most of an old exercise book. The story was about a group of children who travelled around in a sentient car which could float and fly, and it was terribly derivative.

It sometimes surprises people to discover that non-fiction also involves stories. My last book included stories I collected from interviewees, and stories from my own experience. People learn well from stories – if you think about it, we exchange stories all the time – so it makes sense to include stories in any kind of writing.

It begins with a journey.

‘In the beginning’, leads on to the thickening plot in the middle of a story, through to the happily (or otherwise) ever after. A familiar ‘narrative arc’ is necessary, if harder sometimes to come by, in non-fiction writing too – i.e. your beginning needs to create a coherent flow, from a logical starting point to a satisfying conclusion.

Books2

“It sometimes surprises people to discover that non-fiction also involves stories”

That was easy in my last book, because it was based on a completed research project and every completed research project also has a built-in narrative arc. I simply followed the project arc, creating a chapter for each stage of the process. That approach seems to be working well for my next book, too. It’s worth thinking about what your story arc is going to be when you sit down to write. The familiar ‘arc’ shape is what will help your readers to learn and to remember what you have to say.

It begins with an idea.

The beginning of Research and Evaluation for Busy Practitioners is rooted in the final year of my PhD, back in 2005-6. At some point I decided I wanted to write a book about research methods. I don’t remember the exact moment, as my brain was in a thesis-writing spin, but my love (that word again!) of methods had developed throughout my postgraduate studies and I was beginning to think there was something I wanted to say.

tetris

“…the pieces fell into place in my brain like a perfect game of Tetris”

I was on my cross-trainer, in January 2011, exercising away, when the pieces fell into place in my brain like a perfect game of Tetris. That, in many senses, is really where the book began.

I had an idea about something I loved and I knew I had a story to tell, something that hadn’t been told before and certainly not in the way I was going to tell it. I wanted to tell my story. I was ready to make that journey.

The moral of this story is: a book has many beginnings. If you want to write a book – or an article, or whatever – keep thinking. At some point, of course, you’ll have to start writing things down. It’s not always easy to know when that point comes, so if in doubt: write. No writing is ever wasted, and even just jotting down some notes can help you to clarify your thoughts and see your way forward.

If you’re thinking of writing a book or an article, it’s worth doing some research first, to make sure you really have identified a gap that needs filling. Next week I’ll give you some ideas and tips for ways to do that research.

 

More blog shaped words from Helen can be found here:

What, another blog on academic writing?!!!

A year in the life of an academic writer: About Helen Kara

And some books by the same author:

Research and evaluation for busy practitioners

Policy Press bytes

What, another blog on academic writing??!?!?

Helen Kara

Helen Kara gives her recommendations on academic writing blogs – and why hers is different

As part of our special ‘A year in the life of an academic writer’ series,  Policy Press author and independent researcher Helen Kara continues to provide us with her regular blog on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of that most mysterious of art forms, academic writing.

You may think this is the first and only blog about academic writing – if you’ve been living under a stone for the last few years that is.

Actually there are a number of other excellent blogs out there that I enjoy and find useful. You might too.

My first port of call is always Pat Thomson’s blog, which is very readable, regularly updated, and contains a wealth of information about thesis and journal writing, and academic writing in general.

There are a number of excellent blogs on academic writing

There are a number of excellent blogs on academic writing

Especially if you’re doing a PhD, The Thesis Whisperer is essential reading, and Eva Lantsoght’s blog, PhD Talk, is also very useful. Both cover various aspects of the doctoral experience, but focus primarily on writing, and so are also helpful for academic writers who are not currently doing PhDs.

There is a short but excellent collection of resources from Patrick Dunleavy called Writing For Research; it’s not a blog as such, but well worth a look.

And there are many others too – but those are my favourites, and the ones I would recommend.

Moondark midnight

So if there are all these journals, and books, and blogs already, you may be asking, why does anyone ever bother writing anything else? What’s the point of another blog on academic writing? One more book on research methods? Yet another journal article, representing weeks of work, which may only shed as much light on the subject as if you were trying to illuminate a rural beach at moondark midnight with a single match?

One reason people produce academic writing is because they think they have something to add: because they have identified a gap where there is something to be said, something they can say, which nobody has said before, or not in that way, or not for a long time.

“does it fill a gap?”

When you’re thinking about your writing you need to think about this too. One of the questions publishers ask before they will commission a book is: does it fill a gap? They will ask each other, prospective authors, proposal reviewers. Is there already a book like this? Even one published by Little Titchy Press Ltd from Middle-of-Nowhereville? And similarly with journal articles: editors will ask the author, have you published anything like this elsewhere?

Blogs, of course, are less discerning. But I’ve not come across another ‘year in the life of an academic writer’, still less one written by someone who isn’t an academic, and definitely not one written by me. So I’m hoping this blog can add a bit of value, simply by being different.

A question people sometimes ask me is, how do you come up with ideas? Reading is a great help here, and talking to people, and thinking, and writing too. Sometimes I find out what I think as I’m in the process of writing it down; a strange feeling, counter-intuitive, yet oddly addictive.

You could say a book starts with an idea. But there are many ways to tell the story of where a book starts – just as there are many ways to tell any story. I’ll write more about this next week.

 

Is there more to the life of an academic journal than the ISI impact factor?

Kim Eggleton, Journals Executive, Policy Press

There was quite some excitement emanating from our journals desk last week when the latest ISI impact factors were announced. Our Journals Executive, Kim Eggleton, explains to the uninitiated what all the fuss is about and queries the future of any measurement system…

If you follow us on Twitter you’ll have seen we got quite excited last week about the latest ISI impact factors. Two of our journals are included on the prestigious ISI list (also known as Social Science Citation Index, or SSCI), and this year we’ve seen them both improve. Policy & Politics now has an impact factor of 1.302 (an increase of 72%!), and Evidence and Policy has an impact factor of 1.222. But why does this matter?

The impact factor is based on a calculation of citations divided by number of papers published.

Impact factor

As such, a journal with more citations has a higher impact factor. The higher the impact factor, the better the journal (in theory). A high impact factor suggests more researchers are reading this journal and finding its content useful in their work. And it does ring true in many cases – the journals we tend to think of as prestigious do have high impact factors.

Catch-22

A high impact factor leads to an improved reputation, and many journals will see an increase in submissions, subscriptions and downloads as a result of an improved impact factor. This is why Publishers, Editors and authors all get very excited when it’s good news.

However, many people agree that measuring citations alone should not be the only indicator of content quality. The very many ranking systems and lists throughout the world (major examples include the ABS list in the UK and the now abandoned ARC list in Australia) still follow the citation rankings avidly, and down the chain researchers are pressured to publish in these high ranking journals.

“Researchers can only publish in top ranked journals, and the number of top ranked journals is limited. What’s a researcher to do?!”

 

This creates a catch-22 situation for many publishers and researchers, all unhappy with the current system but trapped in its legacy. Researchers can only publish in top ranked journals, and the number of top ranked journals is limited. What’s a researcher to do?!

measurement

There’s more than one way to measure quality – but which way is best?

There’s no one answer, and the dynamics of Open Access compound the issue further. But what is clear is that there’s more than one way to measure quality. Quality is about utility – after all, many people got into academia to make a difference. How many people are reading your work? How many of them are policy makers or practitioners? Has your work changed society in some way?

There are many alternatives coming onto the market now, ready to shake up this age-old system. Altmetrics scours social media sites, newspapers, government policy documents and other sources for mentions of scholarly articles, creating metrics at article level rather than journal (after all, a good journal can have a bad paper, and vice versa!). Kudos, a service we’re proud to have just partnered with, helps authors promote their work to these important audiences. COUNTER is developing the Journal Usage Factor, designed to measure a journal’s reach through downloads.

So while we’re delighted with our latest results and know this is testament to some serious hard work on the part of the editorial boards (thank you!), we know there’s more to it and that the impact factor only reflects utility in academic circles. That’s why we go to extra lengths to get our content to a variety of audiences – we regularly make articles free, our journals have twitter accounts and blogs and facebook pages, and we make space in our titles for content relevant to these audiences. We do think there’s more to life than the impact factor, and ultimately we want our content to make a difference in the wider world too.

Author blog: A year in the life of an academic writer

Helen Kara

Helen Kara, author, independent researcher and academic writer

For the next year Policy Press author and independent researcher Helen Kara is going to be providing us with a regular blog on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of that most mysterious of art forms, academic writing.

Helen has tons of ideas of things she’d like to write about but is also really keen to make this blog something that is not only interesting but also useful to all of you – academic writers, academic readers and people hovering somewhere between the two – so please feel free to chip in with your thoughts in the comments section!

About me

Hello and welcome to a year of weekly posts from me about my experience of academic writing.

Over the next year I plan to cover a range of subjects, such as: how to deal with publishers, open access, cranking out the word count, honing and polishing, the different approaches I use for long and short pieces, article abstracts, book proposals, and so on. If there’s anything you’d like me to address, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to oblige.

However the first thing you need to know about me is that I’m not an academic. I’ve been an independent researcher since 1999, working mainly in social care and health, for statutory and third sector organisations and partnerships. I have always been fascinated by research methods; for me, it is often more interesting to learn about how something was discovered than to hear about what was discovered.

Mongolian puddings

I was awarded my PhD in 2006, and it had a strong methodological component. I knew in my final year that I wanted to write a book about research methods. But they’re a bit like cookbooks: there’s no point writing another one unless you’ve got a new angle, like Mongolian puddings or food for divorce celebrations. Or if you’re a celebrity. Which I’m not. And I didn’t have an angle, either; mainly because I was so busy with commissioned research work that I didn’t have time to think.

All that changed in 2010, soon after the coalition government came to power. My work dried up, I had plenty of time to think, and after a while I came up with the idea for my last book: Research and evaluation for busy practitioners: a time-saving guide. I brought the idea to Policy Press, because I liked their collaborative approach and non-profit status, and they were enthusiastic. The book was published in October 2012, with a wonderful launch at the British Library, and is selling well around the world.

I also began working on articles for academic journals, three of which were published in 2013 and a fourth this year. This was partly because I’d taken a voluntary position as an Associate Research Fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham (TSRC), in May 2012. I needed access to academic literature which I could only reach through affiliation with a university, and I wanted help with getting published in journals. TSRC offered mentoring in exchange for writing work, and this was a good bargain from my point of view.

“I can’t write all the time, I also have to earn a living.”

Last year I began work on my next book: Creative Research Methods for the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide. This is scheduled for publication next April, and I’m currently working on the second draft, following very helpful input from two anonymous typescript reviewers. I need to finish this draft in October, and then I’ll be back to writing academic journal articles.

There are several articles I want to work on, but as an independent researcher, I don’t get salaried time in which to write. This means I can’t write all the time because I also have to earn my living. (And yes, I do know that lots of salaried academics that can’t write all the time and write on their own time too. But still, they have a regular salary, and no need to work on their business as they would if they were self-employed, so it’s not the same. But I wouldn’t swap!)

You can probably tell by now that I love to write. Which is why I’m also writing these posts! And although I’m not an academic, I do enjoy the many challenges and satisfactions of academic writing. I hope to convey some of this enjoyment, and show how I overcome the challenges and find the satisfactions, in the coming weeks and months.

Next week I’ll be sharing some of the other blogs on academic writing that I like to read, and explaining why I think there’s room for this one too. See you then!

Related links:

My PhD

My first book – Research and evaluation for busy practitioners: a time-saving guide

(Or a quick ‘Byte’ Writing for Research lets you dip into specific areas quickly)

Third Sector Research Centre

 

An American Future for Australia’s Universities: derailing the moral mission

Guest blogger and Policy Press author Salvatore Babones shares his concerns about the reforms proposed by the new Australian government to deregulate university fees. These will be considered and debated, as part of the wider suite of  budget proposals, by the Australian Parliament when they return in August. 

Salvatore Babones applauds Australian universities 'moral mission'

Salvatore Babones applauds Australian universities ‘moral mission’

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s new government is proposing to deregulate university fees as part of a series of changes announced in the budget in May. Education Minister Christopher Pyne has said the country has a lot to learn from the American system.  But how accurate is this statement?

Australia’s university system should be the envy of the world: research productivity is high, financial bars for students are low, and academic salaries are among the highest in the world. Unionization ensures basic procedural fairness and relative equality across the sector. Forty-five percent of people aged 25-34 years old have completed tertiary degrees.

Australia’s population of 23 million is 10% smaller than that of Texas, yet multiple Australian universities regularly feature in global top 100 rankings: the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne, New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia, plus the Australian National University.

Reasonable cost

These world-class outcomes are achieved at very reasonable cost: Australia spends about 1.6 percent of GDP on tertiary education, exactly equal to the OECD average. Inclusivity is ensured by the fact that students can defer 100 percent of tuition payments until their incomes rise well above the national median. High productivity + low cost = policy paradise.

So why is Australia’s new government determined to revolutionize the Australian higher education sector?

The government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott has proposed to deregulate fees so that universities can charge whatever tuition the market will bear. Universities will have to set aside 20 percent of any funds raised through increased tuition to provide scholarships for disadvantaged students. At the same time, government subsidies will be cut by 20 percent across the board, shifting more costs onto students and their families.

The expected result is that students will bid up the price of degrees at the top universities, while regional and rural universities may find it difficult to make up the 20 percent shortfall in government support. Universities like Sydney, Melbourne and ANU will benefit at the expense of the rest of the system.

“The government’s program will result in a massive financial transfer from Australian families to elite university researchers”

The government’s program is designed to give Australia “at least one university in the top 20 in the world.” If fees are pushed high enough, it might give Australia three.

But this propaganda victory will come at a high cost. The government’s program will result in a massive financial transfer from Australian students and families to elite university researchers, many of us expats from the UK and US. In other words, from ordinary Australians to people like me.

A better budget would allow modest across-the-board increases in tuition and require universities to plow these increases back into reduced class sizes. Research-only positions should be eliminated and top researchers should be required to spend serious face time in the classroom, just as they do in the world’s most prestigious universities.

Most importantly, the Australian government should recognize and embrace the fact that the best universities do much more than just teach and conduct research. Universities are important sources of guidance, advice and — yes — criticism. At their best, universities are forces for positive social change.

Vital moral mission

Today, Australia’s universities perform this vital moral mission as well as any universities in the world, and maybe better. For example, the University of Sydney is the only major university in the world to have a deputy vice chancellor solely focused on indigenous issues. No major American or Canadian university has an officer at that level devoted to Native American or First Nation issues.

Another Sydney initiative is the new Charles Perkins Centre for the study of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity is not a sexy, big-money area of medical research. But when more than 60 per cent of the population is overweight, someone has to find a solution.

Along with research and teaching, moral leadership for positive social change is the indispensable third mission of the modern university. The great strength of the Australian university system is not research or teaching but its fundamental morality. Australia should build on this strength, not jettison it in the vain pursuit of academic rankings.

For decades Australian universities evolved in isolation from the rest of the world. They inherited an Oxbridge tutorial system that they creatively stretched into a modern system of mass education. Higher education unions ensured relative equality across a diverse sector. Australia blazed its own trail with remarkable success.

Australia’s universities have problems, but these problems will not be solved by a massive redistribution of resources from ordinary students to elite researchers. Australia can learn from UK and US academic achievement, but it should also embrace its own moral traditions. Someday soon UK and US universities may wake up to find they have something important to learn from Australia.

In the end, no more than twenty universities can ever be in the top twenty. The rest still have important work to do. We should get on with it.

Salvatore Babones is Associate Professor of Sociology & Social Policy at The University of Sydney. His books Social Inequality and Public Health and The Future of Development: A Radical Manifesto are both published by the Policy Press

If you liked this you might be interested in these:

Regulating international students’ wellbeing

Social inclusion and higher education

Education and social justice in a digital age 

The impact of research in education

And, coming soon….

Australian public policy: progressive ideas in the neoliberal ascendancy

 

Murder, bloodshed, dictatorship and resistance: becoming a woman in power

Torild Skard

Torild Skard

Policy Press author and guest blogger Torild Skard reflects on what it has taken for women to be the political power in their countries in the 50 years between 1960 and 2010.  

Torild Skard is a Senior Researcher in Women’s Studies at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo, specialising in women in politics. A pioneer in the women’s movement nationally and internationally, she was formerly a MP and the first woman President of the Norwegian Upper House. She has also been Director for the Status of Women in UNESCO Paris, Regional Director in UNICEF West- and Central Africa and Director General in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has written numerous books and articles on women’s issues, particularly women in politics and travels widely studying and promoting the status of women.

Her book, Women of power, written from a position of ‘insider knowledge’, charts the lives and careers of women as they finally moved onto the central political stage, published at the end of July.

 

IN THE COURSE of 50 years 73 women have become presidents or prime ministers globally. As newcomers to political leadership, who fought opposition and prejudice to get there, many also came to power in times of crisis.

Unrest and armed conflict, transition from authoritarian to democratic rule and depression with poverty and social distress were all challenges many of the women national leaders had to deal with in and as part of coming to power.

LIDIA_GUEILER_TEJADA

Lidia Güeiler Tejada

Facing the military in Bolivia

In 1979 accountant Lidia Güeiler Tejada became president of Bolivia. Bolivia was one of the poorest countries in Latin-America with a record in military coups. Güeiler had had a long career struggling for human rights, fought in the underground resistance, was active in party politics and in 1956 was the first woman elected to Congress. When the military took over, she spent years in prison and exile, but did not give up. In 1978 she was re-elected and became president of the Chamber of Deputies

In 1978 the long-time dictator finally accepted that he must hold elections, and a chaotic period followed. An interim government was formed, but it was soon overthrown by the military. People protested and Güeiler became the country’s first woman president.

In spite of the turbulence and insecurity, Güeiler took on the role of interim president and pressed ahead with firm determination. But it did not last long. The military seized power again and Güeiler had to flee the country.

Sheikh Hasina

Sheikh Hasina

Fighting for democracy in Bangladesh
At its independence in 1971, Bangladesh was overpopulated and devastated by war. Agriculture was primitive and the land was ravaged by floods and storms. In spite of extensive development efforts, dissatisfaction was growing and Mujibur Rahman, the ‘Father of the Nation’, responded by declaring a state of emergency so that he could rule with greater authority. But this provoked negative reactions, and in 1975 he was killed by military in his home. General Zia took power and gradually moved towards a more democratic system. But then he was murdered by a group of officers. General Ershad replaced him and re-imposed a state of emergency with authoritarian rule.

Khaledia Zia

Khaleda Zia

The two politicians who, more than any others, took up the struggle for democracy, were women. Sheikh Hasina became leader of the Awami League and Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh National Party. They struggled for years organising demonstrations and strikes and both were imprisoned several times. But they persisted, even though Muslim leaders claimed that female leadership was in conflict with Islam, and close relatives of both of them were assassinated: Sheikh Hasina was the daughter of Mujibur Rahman and Khaleda Zia was General Zia’s widow. Finally in 1991 elections were held and the two women became prime ministers, one after the other.

Sylvie Kinigi

Sylvie Kinigi

Ethnic tensions in Central Africa
Central Africa was marked by intense conflicts between Hutus and Tutsis and two women were brought in as national leaders to promote reconciliation. Until the 1990s the regimes in Burundi and Rwanda were authoritarian with violence and mass killings. Then efforts to democratise started. In Burundi in 1993, a Hutu president was elected and he appointed Sylvie Kinigi as prime minster. In addition to being a capable economist, she was Tutsi. But three months later while massacres took place in the countryside, Tutsi paratroopers stormed the palace and killed the president. Kinigi sought refuge in the French Embassy.

Suddenly Kinigi was both president and prime minister. After 11 days she left the embassy to talk with survivors and army factions. She managed to create some order and the Parliament elected a new president. But ethnic violence continued and she was the subject of criticism, threats and attacks from all sides. She resigned as prime minister and went abroad. She survived; her female colleague in Rwanda did not.

In 1990, Tutsi refugees in exile created the Rwandan Patriotic Front, RPF, and invaded Rwanda. They demanded an end to the authoritarian regime of the Hutu president Habyarimana. He established a coalition government with members from the opposition, among them Agatha Uwilingiyimana. She was a teacher and Hutu. First she became minister of education, then in 1993 prime minister. She managed to negotiate a peace agreement with the RPF, but before a new government could take over, the presidential airplane was shot down. It is not clear who fired the shot, but the incident led to widespread murders of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda and Burundi and both Agatha Uwilingiyimana and her husband were killed.

Brutal sexism in France and Australia
Over the period 1960 – 2010 economic and political crises were most frequent in developing and Eastern industrial countries. But even in ‘stable’, ‘calm’ Western democracies women leaders experienced challenging situations.

Edith Cresson

Edith Cresson

In France in 1991 President Mitterand appointed Edith Cresson as the first woman prime minister. He wanted to be radical and modern, but the male ‘barons’ in the party were furious, refused to support her and opposed her initiatives and policies. Before she even said a word, the media labelled Cresson a ‘media bluff’ and a ‘poor puppet’. She was Mitterand’s ‘sexy slave’ and was ridiculed because of her ‘frivolous’ jewellery and high-pitched voice. Cresson fought back, but before a year had passed, she had been dismissed by the one who appointed her.

Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard

In Australia twenty years later the situation was no better. The first woman prime minister, Julia Gillard, became the object of cruel sexist attacks. The media called her a ‘bitch’ and a ‘liar’. There was hate speech against her on Facebook and cartoons were published depicting a naked Prime Minister wearing a dildo.

Women of Power by Torild Skard, author of ‘Women of power’, published by Policy Press on 30 July.


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