Margaret Thatcher? Fictional?
Dear Quote Investigator: I have been trying to learn about a sentence supposedly said by Margaret Thatcher who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1980s. The version I was told is:
If you want a speech made you should ask a man, but if you want something done you should ask a woman.
This is a fascinating statement, but I am incredulous. Could you investigate? Where and when did she say this? Or is this another fake quotation?
Quote Investigator: Yes, QI will look into this provocative remark for you. Two important reference works, the Yale Book of Quotations [YQMT] and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations [OQMT], list a version of this saying that appeared in People magazine in 1975. This instance of the adage includes the prefatory phrase “In politics”. Here is an excerpt from People [PMT]:
“In politics,” Margaret Thatcher once acidly observed, “if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”
The Yale Book of Quotations also states, “Thatcher is said to have used this in a 1965 speech.” Yes, QI can report that a newspaper called the Evening News on May 20, 1965 quotes Thatcher using the phrase when addressing a women’s group.