Academic journal article Rural Society

Rural Women's Leadership in Atlantic Canada: First-Hand Perspectives on Local Public Life and Participation in Electoral Politics

Academic journal article Rural Society

Rural Women's Leadership in Atlantic Canada: First-Hand Perspectives on Local Public Life and Participation in Electoral Politics

Article excerpt

RURAL WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP IN ATLANTIC CANADA: FIRST-HAND PERSPECTIVES ON LOCAL PUBLIC LIFE AND PARTICIPATION IN ELECTORAL POLITICS Carbert L (2006) Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press; ISBN 0-8020-9125-3; pp 190; USD 45.00 HB

This book addresses rural women's participation in leadership, a topic that has been of significant interest to Australian researchers over the past two decades. While much of the literature in Australia has focused on women's involvement in decision-making within agricultural organizations; Carbert's focus is on the local government sector. In Canada, as in Australia, women's involvement in local government has increased substantially in recent years but a significant imbalance in gender representation continues in non-metropolitan areas. In order to understand why this is the case, Carbert draws on focus group data, seeking to obtain the perceptions on leadership of 126 women from four rural Atlantic provinces.

Following an introductory chapter and a chapter outlining the methodology Carbert introduces her sample. The women involved in the study are typically well educated, professionally employed and have active leadership roles in a number of areas in their communities. These are women who, as Carbert notes, would be a likely pool for potential candidates in rural Atlantic local government elections. The majority, however, express reluctance to stand for local government. In order to understand why, Carbert explores what she calls the 'slushy intersections' the women experience between politics and family, politics and occupation, and politics and the local economy.

In the first instance informants explain their aversion to civic leadership in terms of their family commitments. They also describe a different type of gender inequality: often sons 'inherit' local government positions from fathers. The second overlap explored by Carbert, is that between the women's occupations and politics, and how this affects women working in both the public and private sectors. Women working in the former (e.g. teachers, social workers) are inhibited by the traditional Canadian prohibition against partisan participation of people employed in the public sector. …

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