We speak to three LSE alumnae who are currently walking the corridors of power in Westminster, to find out about their time at LSE and how their careers as female Parliamentarians have been shaped.
Rt Hon Baroness Joyce Quin, started her career as a lecturer, before being elected as a Member of the European Parliament, where she stayed for a decade. In the late 1980’s Baroness Quin was elected MP for Gateshead which she represented until 2005. During her time in the House of Lords, Baroness Quin has sat on the Joint Committees on Intelligence and Security Committee and on House of Lords Reform. Baroness Quin currently sits on the Communications Committee in the House of Lords.
Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP has been Member of Parliament for Barking since 1994 and chaired the Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises the value for money - the economy, efficiency and effectiveness - of public spending, between 2010 and 2015. Dame Margaret held a number of Ministerial roles across Government Departments of Education, Work and Pensions and Culture starting in the late 1990s. Dame Margaret is currently sitting on the House of Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion.
Anneliese Dodds MP was elected into Parliament in 2017, representing Oxford East, and has been shadow Treasury minister since June 2017. Prior to this, Anneliese was Oxford’s MEP where she served on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Before becoming an MEP Annelise was an academic based at Aston University, with her first academic post being an Economic and Social Research Council postdoctoral fellowship at LSE.
What was the highlight of your time at LSE?
Rt Hon Baroness Quin: At LSE I studied for an MSc in International Relations. But in addition to studying international relations it was wonderful living every day in an international environment. My fellow students came from all over the planet - showing how LSE is a magnet, attracting people from across the world. I treasure the memories of my two closest friends, Zahra Ahmed from Pakistan (later Zahra Shahid Hussain, someone who cared about and worked for improved educational opportunities for women, and was tragically murdered in 2013) and Sandra Knopp, from New York. We rediscovered our friendship years later, to our great pleasure.
Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP: Playing the mum in A Taste of Honey.
Anneliese Dodds MP: When I undertook my viva on my PhD. It was such a privilege to have academics whom I really admired, engaging so seriously with my research. It was also lovely to be able to celebrate passing the viva with my supervisor, Mark Thatcher - who had been wonderfully supportive throughout the whole process. When I later became an academic myself, I tried as much as possible to follow Mark's approach towards his students - challenging and pushing to bring out the best in people.
When did you decide you wanted to be a politician?
Rt Hon Baroness Quin: I did not set out to be a politician and only decided to try to get elected after being approached about putting my name forward for the first directly elected European Parliament in 1979. My political inspirations were twofold: firstly the history of the Fabian Society and the founding of the Labour Party in Britain; and secondly the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s led by Martin Luther King.
Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP: As a young mum in the Labour Party, Nicky Kaldor’s daughter said I should go on the Council as it would keep me sane whilst changing nappies.
Anneliese Dodds MP: I'm not sure that I ever decided I wanted to be a politician as a 'career'. However, since my teens I have continuously believed that political activism is important, and from that point of view, 'career' politics is only one way of engaging in politics. In fact, I think researchers can have a very big impact on politics, especially in areas like public and social policy - and that we need to have more engagement between politics and academia, not less! I suppose I first became active in organised politics though when I was an undergraduate, standing for election as a councillor; and then stood as a parliamentary candidate (unsuccessfully) while I was a PhD student. It was another nine years though before I was elected as an MP - during which time I worked as an academic, had the first of my two children, and served as an MEP for two years.
What has been your proudest moment?
Rt Hon Baroness Quin: Being elected to the first directly elected European Parliament in 1979 to represent my home area in the North East of England was very special. I was also delighted when in the House of Commons that my work to extend concessionary bus travel nationally won the support of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, who allocated the necessary funds in his budget to bring it into effect.
Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP: Defeating the BNP in my constituency in the 2010 General Election.
Anneliese Dodds MP: I think it would be a toss-up between being elected to represent Oxford East (the constituency where I live, in a city that I love and where I'm bringing up my children) and managing to get new, much tougher financial regulations agreed at European level when I was an MEP.
Which women inspired you?
Rt Hon Baroness Quin: Two women MPs. Firstly, Ellen Wilkinson MP for Jarrow - that tiny, flame-haired woman with the arresting voice - who awoke the country’s conscience about the scourges of poverty and unemployment when she participated in the dignified and moving Jarrow March in 1936. Secondly Grace Colman MP for Tynemouth - a dedicated constituency representative and who I met and learned much from on a number of occasions.
Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP: Maggie Smith, Rosa Luxemburg, Doris Lessing and Simone de Beauvoir.
Anneliese Dodds MP: There is such a long list it is difficult to know where to start! Given that I am being interviewed for #LSEWomen I would have to say that Beatrice Webb has been a very significant influence. She managed to combine social scientific expertise with a very strong commitment to social justice. It is really encouraging that her legacy lives on, both at LSE of course but also through the Fabian Society and the New Statesman.
A history of LSE women in the Commons
Women in Parliament Today
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