The participation and representation of women in decision-making bodies is an important factor in evaluating the level of political culture and the quality of democracy in a country. In the Czech Republic, and in post-communist countries in general, the representation of women in decision-making is imbalanced when compared with the representation of men. This fact is indicative of patterns of governance and the attitudes and values of citizens and suggests a generally passive citizenship in post-communist countries. In reaction to this development, there have been a number of analyses on women in politics in recent years. In general these studies concentrate on the barriers facing women entering politics and actively involved in political life. In recent years there has been a tendency in the media to give space to women who have left politics and have them look back and evaluate their career and the nature of politics. In this respect the academic sphere is lagging behind. The authoresses of this article aim to fill in this gap. They examine the following question: why do women leave politics after having struggled so hard to get in? They focus on the experiences of women who, in most of the cases, spent more than a decade in politics. They look at the women's retrospective evaluations of their political careers, at life-work balance in politics, and the women's experience of departing from politics. The article concludes that the key factor behind entry into politics, and behind maintaining a political career, is the relationships within political parties. Stereotypes and strategies continue to influence the strategic choices of actors, who assimilate into the existing political culture and choose not to generate considerable pressure for change in gender relations in political life.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.