By Claire Zillman
December 6, 2016

There’s lots of speculation about who will replace Italian PM Matteo Renzi, who resigned yesterday after suffering a massive defeat in his effort to pass a referendum on constitutional reform. But we know this much: it’s unlikely to be a woman.

As Fortune‘s Laura Cohn reports, Italy and Japan are the only Group of Seven nations that have never had a female leader or a leading female candidate for the country’s top political job. It’s somewhat surprising that Italy earns that classification since it has a decent record of female representation in Parliament. It ranks 42nd out of 193 countries in terms of women in the legislature, ahead of the U.S. at 99th and every other G7 nation except for Germany at No. 24.

But despite their presence in politics, female elected officials still struggle to be taken seriously. For example, in mayoral elections earlier this year, Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister and media tycoon, refused to support Giorgia Meloni—a leading rightwing candidate for Rome’s mayor—because he said her pregnancy made her unfit for office.

Says Simona Aimar, an assistant professor at University College London: “Italian politics has not been structured for women, and biases and man-only camaraderie are rampant.”

 

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