I would recommend you read this post on the New Statesman Staggers blog about the new Australian Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
There have, of course, been the inevitable comparisons between Julia Gillard and Harriet Harman. Both are female lawyers and both have been Deputies, though I would point out that Harriet was never Deputy Prime Minister as was Gillard. Harriet was Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, a position to which she was elected by Labour Party members and affiliated organisations.
The really important part of the Alyssa McDonald’s Staggers piece comes towards the end:
“Politically, there’s a glaring difference between Gillard and Harman. One has fought consistently for a feminist agenda, while the other has approached her political career with individualistic ambition. Not to do Gillard down — she’s very good at her job and she deserves her success — but her premiership isn’t necessarily any more of a great lunge forward for women than Margaret Thatcher’s was thirty years ago.
Meanwhile, Harman’s drive to push issues such as rape laws and the Equality Bill into the spotlight has undoubtedly been good for British women — and a huge contibuting factor to her unlovely public image.
Gillard’s success is still a symbolic step forward, signalling that the presence of women in Australian politics has become normal. And it looks likely to be good news for the country as a whole. But it’s not as if Australian women now have a Harman at the top to look out for their interests.”