Publication Date

April 2019


J. Donald Moon


College of Social Studies


English (United States)


In this senior thesis, I explore whether women who serve as the second or third head of government in a particular country are able to escape the “Iron Lady” leadership style trope that often defines the first. Do women always need to display stereotypically masculine traits to succeed in executive politics, or can they adopt different leadership styles once a country has experienced a succession of female executives? In order to address these questions, I developed what I hope will serve as three distinct contributions to the field of political science: the Ferrous Scale, the concept of Behavioral Representation, and the Learning Theory regarding political leadership. I test the theory in this thesis using the case study of New Zealand’s three female heads of government: Jenny Shipley (prime minister from 12/08/1997 to 12/05/1999), Helen Clark (prime minister from 12/05/1999 to 11/19/2008), and Jacinda Ardern (prime minister from 10/26/2017 to the present). I find that the New Zealand case study supports my Learning Theory.

Available for download on Tuesday, April 15, 2025



© Copyright is owned by author of this document