“Becoming the World’s Most Powerful Woman” – A Discussion on Angela Merkel’s Rise to Power

Speaker at podium

Professor Joyce Marie Mushaben of the University of Missouri-St. Louis discusses German Chancellor Angela Merkel and “Becoming the World’s Most Powerful Woman.”

October 25, 2017
by Aislinn McNiece

The BMW Center for German and European Studies hosted Professor Joyce Marie Mushaben, Professor of Comparative Politics and Gender Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, to discuss her new book, Becoming Madam Chancellor: Angela Merkel and the Berlin Republic (2017), on October 23, 2017.

“The 2005 election secured Merkel’s place in history as the first woman, the first easterner, the first physicist, and even the first pastor’s daughter to lead the nation. Merkel’s status as a double outsider – female and Eastern – forced her to make up and play by her own rules. Paradoxically, we could say that she became the embodiment of the old feminist mantra, ‘the personal is the political,’ even though she rejects the feminist label for herself.”

Mushaben discussed Merkel’s influence on the European and international stage as well as on German domestic politics and culture. She explained that although some people accuse Merkel of being anti-feminist, citing the drop in female legislative representation in the most recent election, Merkel has had a huge impact on women and minorities in German society.

“Increasingly, women’s numerical strength is ultimately a function of all things being equal – which, of course, they usually aren’t – obliging us to consider Merkel policies that can help level the societal playing field. Beyond serving as a role model for young women attracted to politics, Merkel’s intercultural opening policies of the last decade have created new windows of opportunity for parliamentarians and administrators of migrant descent.”

“Rosalynn Carter famously once said, ‘A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but where they need to be.’ Angela Merkel has not only shown that gender still matters; she has also proven that one woman can make a tremendous difference.”