Young women in government

I’ve done some research, spurred by querying my remark that at 60, Annemie Neyts was considered too old to be in the Belgian government.

Belgium has 21 ministers (at national level; there’s also regional and other positions to fill, but I haven’t counted them).

8 are women; their average year of birth is 1965 (range from 1958 to 1975).
13 are men; their average year of birth is 1958 (range from 1947 to 1973).

I did the same tally for the U.S. cabinet. The average year of birth is 1943, four years before the oldest of the current Belgian ministers (foreign minister Louis Michel) was born.

However – interestingly – the three women in the cabinet are the youngest, second youngest and fourth youngest cabinet members. Their average year of birth is 1952 (still older than every Belgian minister except Louis Michel); the average year of birth of the 15 men is 1941. (Oldest – 1931; youngest – 1954)

It had never occurred to me before that female government ministers might be on average younger than male ones. I don’t have time to check other countries right now, but I wonder if this is a general pattern? What could explain it?

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