Conférence – Rethinking Right-Wing Women. Gender, Women and the Conservative Party, 1880s to the Present


This two-day international conference explores the relationship between women and conservatism since the late 19th century. In the media frenzy and the re-enactment of the visceral political divisions of the 1980s that greeted the death of Margaret Thatcher in April, 2013, it soon became clear that Britain’s first woman Prime Minister was being portrayed as an aberrant figure who had emerged from a party of men.  It appeared that the media and the public had not been well enough served by academics in making sense of and contextualizing the Thatcher phenomenon and, more broadly, the paradoxical sexual politics of the Right. In many respects– from the foundation of the Primrose League in 1883 all the way to the 2010 so-called ‘Mumsnet’ election — the success of British Conservatives to organise and mobilize women has been ‘exceptional’. In the weeks after the General Election, we will come together to assess the British Conservative Party’s gender politics, and rethink right-wing women as political leaders, activists, organisers, and voters.


Collaboratively organised by Julie Gottlieb (University of Sheffield), Clarisse Berthezene (University of Paris-Diderot) and Jeremy McIllwaine (Archivist, CPA), Dr Rosie Campbell and Baroness Anne Jenkin will present the keynotes, and Prof. Stuart Ball will chair a roundtable on “Conserving Conservative Women.” Other speakers include Matthew Hendley, Diane Urquart, David Thackeray, June Purvis, Richard Toye, Adrian Bingham, Krista Cowman, Laura Beers, and Sara Childs.

We are grateful for financial assistance from the Conservative Party Archive, the C&C of the PSA, the University of Sheffield, and the Maison Française d’Oxford.


  • Julie V. Gottlieb,
  • Clarisse Berthezène,
  • Jeremy McIlwaine


Weston Library, Bodleian, Oxford


Day One, Monday 29 June, 2015

9.30-10.00:  Julie Gottlieb, Clarisse Berthezène, and Jeremy McIlwaine, Welcome and Introduction

10.00-11.00 (Lecture Theatre, Plenary):

Chair: Clarisse Berthezène

  • Diane Urquhart, Irish women and unionism, 1880-1914
  • David Thackeray, At the heart of the party?  The women’s Conservative organisation in the age of partial suffrage, 1914-1928

11.00 coffee break

11.20-12.20 (Lecture Theatre, Plenary):

Chair: Stuart Ball

  • June Purvis, Christabel Pankhurst (1880-1958) – a Conservative suffragette?
  • Matthew C. HendleyFrom Crucial Female Auxiliaries to Superfluous Women?’: The Primrose League and its Struggle for Survival, 1914-1932.

12.25-1.25 (Lecture Theatre, Plenary):

Chair:  David Thackeray

  • Julie Gottlieb, Conservatism, Feminism and Models of Women’s Leadership in Inter-war Britain
  • Clarisse Berthezène, Women’s Voluntarism, Conservative politics and representations of womanhood

1.30-2.30 Lunch outside the lecture theatre

2.30-4.00 (Lecture Theatre, Plenary):

Chair: Martin Conway

  • Richard Toye, Churchill, women, and the politics of gender
  • Adrian Bingham, Conservatism, gender and the politics of everyday life, 1950s-1980s
  • Krista Cowman, Margaret Thatcher before Thatcherism

4.00 coffee break

4.20-5.20 (Lecture Theatre, Plenary):

Chair: Rosie Campbell

  • Laura Beers, Feminist responses to Thatcher and Thatcherism
  • Sarah Childs, The (Feminised) Contemporary Conservative Party

5.30-6.30 (Lecture Theatre):

Chair:  Richard Hayton

  • Keynote, Rosie Campbell, Whatever happened to Worcester woman? Conservative women voters 1945-2015

7.00 Book Launch with wine reception for Clarisse Berthezene @Quod

8.00Conference Dinner@ Quod

(Payment must be made in advance: method of payment TBA)

Day Two, Tuesday 30 June, 2015

10.00-11.20: Parallel Sessions (6 papers)

Session (a) Biographical Perspectives on Women’s Conservative Activism, Pre-1945

Chair: Krista Cowman

  • John Black, The Enigmatic Duchess: Katherine Marjory Stewart Murray
  • Gary Love, Bringing the Conservative Party to Heel: Dorothy Crisp’s journalism and the limits of right-wing women’s political participation, c. 1927-1945
  • Jacqui Turner, Nancy Astor and the question of a right wing female space

Session (b) Thinking about Thatcher and Thatcherism

Chair: Gillian Peele

  • Stuart McAnulla, Gender and the reception of radical legacies: Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher
  • Matthew Bailey, ‘One tin of mackerel…One pound of icing sugar’: Mrs Thatcher’s larder and the politics of the 1975 Conservative Leadership election
  • Jessica Prestidge, Thatcher as housewife: an image of the ordinary woman?

11.20 coffee break

11.20-12.50: Parallel Sessions (6 papers)

Session (a) Gendering Conservatism

Chair: Richard Toye

Neil Fleming, Women and Lancashire Conservatism between the wars

Akanksha Mehta, ‘The Reflexivity of Discomfort’: “The Ethics, Methodological, Approaches, and ‘Difficult’ Narratives in Feminist Research

Angelia Wilson, Social conservative women and the political strategy of the US Christian Right

Session (b) Race, Gender and Sexuality in Conservative Politics

Chair: Sara Childs

  • Stephane Porion, Diana Spearman’s great role and influence within the post-war Conservative Party
  • Matthew Francis, Stepping Stones and ‘Sari Parties’: The Conservative Party and BAME Women, 1976-86
  • Orlanda Ward, Framing Conservative BAME Women at the 2010 General Election

12.50-2.00 Lunch at Old Bodleian

2.00-3.20: (3 papers) Conservative Women in Comparative and Transnational Perspectives

Chair: Julie Gottlieb

Matthew Stibbe, Peace at any Price? Conservative women in Britain in the late 1930s and the Anglo-German Fellowship

Judith Szapor, Right-wing women and the politics of gender in Hungary in the aftermath of WWI and after 1989

Elena Musiani, Conservative women in Italian society and policy 1880s-1980s

3.20-4.30: Parallel Meetings

  • Session (a) Brainstorming about funding prospects and moving the project forward
  • Session (b) Future Publication plans: Beyond the Book. This session is intended for those who would like to collaborate on a special issue or the like to emerge from this conference.

4.30-5.30 Roundtable: Conserving Conservative Women (Lecture Theatre) chaired by Prof. Stuart Ball, Jeremy McIlwaine, and Stephen Parkinson

5.30-6.30: Keynote Baroness Anne Jenkin, of Women2Win, ‘Reflections: looking back over the first ten years (and forward to the next ten)’

Citer ce billet
Julie Le Gac (2015, 22 juin). Conférence – Rethinking Right-Wing Women. Gender, Women and the Conservative Party, 1880s to the Present. Genre et Europe. Consulté le 20 mai 2024, à l’adresse

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