Thatcher, who died at age 87 after a stroke, was irritated ironically by her most memorable achievement, that she was her country's first and, so far, only woman to be elected Prime Minister.
That's no small achievement. Yet she bristled at any suggestion that she had gotten to where she was by any means other than her own merit.
"I would hate a person to ask me a question, Are you a quota woman or are you a merit woman?" she said in a 1993 interview on
Such is the burden of being a "first" or "only." Thatcher had at least two glass ceilings to break. One was discrimination against her for being a woman. The other was the presumption that she had received special breaks because she was a woman. British politicians were becoming sensitive in these post-1960s times, after all, to the need to have at least one woman at the table.
She competed in a man's world, determined to beat other men at their own game, her biographers say, and didn't want any favors to her as a woman.
It is fair to say, looking at her biography, that her breaking of glass ceilings came most of all from an inner courage, conviction, resourcefulness and determination that ultimately was inseparable from the rest of her formidable personality.
After all, this shopkeeper's daughter from eastern
If anything, she had her own Thatcherite form of feminism, speaking of women not as victims but for their strengths. "If you want something said, ask a man," she said in a 1965 speech to a national women's group. "If you want something done, ask a woman."
And she had few illusions about the thickness of glass ceilings, saying in the early 1970s that she did not expect to live long enough to see a female prime minister. Instead, she eventually exceeded her own expectations.
Yet Thatcher also was a very polarizing figure. Unlike her good friend President
Yet tough measures were needed.
"If you just set out to be liked," she said in a 1989 speech, "you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time and you would achieve nothing."
A year later, however, her principled inflexibility led to her party removing her from power. It also paved the way to a new center-left "third way" politics that helped bring
It is hard to know how much of
- Snowden Leaks Reveal American Trojan Horse in Europe
- European Outrage over Snowden Affair is Laughable
- Can the European Union be Saved?
- More Union in the European Union Doubtful
- Britain Needs to Think Bigger
- Russia: The Kremlin is Not Just a One-Man Band
- Deny Terrorists Their Power
- Scotland: Chasing the Nordic Option after Independence
- Two British Prime Ministers
- Can Culture Heal the Wounds of the Troubles?
- Iceland: Projection of Journalists' Wishes
- A Right and Proper Death of the Euro
- The Acute Jihadist Threat in Europe
- European Union: Caught in the Fertility Trap
- Explaining the Cyprus Shakedown
- How The Baby Boomers Have Betrayed Their Children
- Despite Warning on Violence, Greece won't Ban Golden Dawn
- Greece Expects Record Number of Tourists this Year
- China and Investors Bet on Greece
- Have Greek Markets Turned a Corner?
- France: A Socialist Lawmaker's Fiscal Double Life
- Russia: From Red to Grey
- Russian Gas, European Integration and the Fate of Ukraine
- Poland Still Coping with Dark Past
- Margaret Thatcher: Not a 'Quota Woman'
- Margaret Thatcher: The Lady was a Champ
- Margaret Thatcher: What the 'Iron Lady' Forged
- Nanny-State Freeloaders Celebrate Thatcher's Death
- A European Bailout Unlike Any Other
- Europe's Disturbing Precedent in the Cyprus Bailout
- Balkans: New Extremism Poses Threat
- Greece: Dangers of the Disaffected and Unemployed
- Economists, Greeks Wary of 'No More Austerity'
- The Two Europes
- Eurozone Jobless Rate Hits Record 12 Percent
- Europe, Unemployment and Instability
- Swiss Curb Executive Greed, Will Anyone Follow?
- Czechoslovakia: Revisiting the Velvet Divorce
- Italy's Election: Lighting the Lamp
(c) 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc., "Margaret Thatcher: Not a 'Quota Woman'"