The Women Take Over: Female Leadership in Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen


This case study examines Praxagora’s ascent to leadership, especially her efforts to empower other women to become leaders themselves. Praxagora is a fictional character in the ancient Athenian comic play Assemblywomen by Aristophanes (392 BCE). The title of the play is a joke: in the eyes of the ancient Athenian audience, it would seem absurd that the major democratic legislative body of Athens (the Ecclesia, or Assembly) should be composed of women. But in Assemblywomen, that is precisely what happens. Ignoring cultural expectations, Praxagora (whose name means someone who does things in the public forum) replaces the all-male Assembly with women, and begins major cultural reforms which reflect a perspective on gender and civic participation that differs from real-world Athenian theory and practice.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

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