The political axe rarely swings in women’s favour

More women have become education secretary than have held any other top government role – why do so few get to stamp their mark, asks Anthony Seldon

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Justine Greening, dismissed earlier this month, was the ninth female education secretary – very easily the most popular berth for female Cabinet ministers throughout political history.

Three times more women, indeed, have served in this capacity than in any other senior position in government. Three women have been home secretary (Jacqui Smith, Theresa May and Amber Rudd), the same number as health secretaries (Barbara Castle, Virginia Bottomley and Patricia Hewitt). In contrast, two women have been prime minister, while Margaret Beckett has been the sole female foreign secretary, and none has ...

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