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What’s happening to all of Canada’s female premiers?

B.C. Premier Christy Clark and former Alberta Premier Alison Redford at a joint news conference in November.It was a just a few months ago that journos were busy writing about how women in Canadian politics have come of age.

There was a real excitement that six of Canada's premiers were women: Eva Aariak in Nunuvut, Christy Clark in British Columbia, Alison Redford in Alberta, Kathleen Wynne in Ontario, Pauline Marois in Quebec and Kathy Dunderdale in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Today, that impressive list of six has dwindled to just two.

Aariak lost her seat, Redford and Dunderdale were pushed out and Pauline Marois was involved in this week's epic Parti Quebecois election loss.

What happenened in just a matter of months? And does the fact that there's only two women now suggest something about the state of women in Canadian politics?

Most think that the disappearance of female premiers is simply a coincidence.

"It does occur to me that it’s unfortunate that we had six, actually, six women at the Council of the Federation meeting last summer and that has changed, obviously," Ontario Premier Katleen Wynne said on Tuesday, according to the Globe and Mail.

[ Related: Pauline Marois resigns as PQ leader after crushing election defeat ]

"There’s no definite pattern here: I think that it may have been a coincidence of history that there were that many female premiers. I hope it’s not. I hope that we will see over the coming years that trajectory re-established."

Clare Beckton, executive director of the Centre for Women in Politics at Carleton University says that these women didn't fail because they were women.

"In general, I think the four premiers exemplify the exigencies of politics," she told Yahoo Canada News.

"Eva Aariak served five years and Kathy Dunderdale four years. Pauline Marois and her party appeared to have made errors in judgment respecting the concerns of Quebecers. According to the Alberta Conservative party, Allison Redford displayed some leadership attributes that were not conducive to engaging the party members and caucus. A male leader may also not have survived in a similar situation."

Beckton does contend that women leaders face some unique challenges — like high expectations, judgments about their likability and being judged by their appearance — but that having six elected women premiers is something to celebrate.

"A big lesson is that women can run and win because the electorate values good leadership irrespective of gender," she said.

"Simply because several of them did not survive more than 18 months does not mean women cannot be successful leaders."

[ Related: Was sexism a factor in the downfall of Alison Redford? ]

Interestingly, however, a blogger — a man — says that gender did play a role in the demise of each of those premiers.

Scott Ross has this interesting take:

"Surely some may speculate gender had nothing to do with the forced resignations of these female Premiers, but if one considers what would happen if these leaders were men, that argument falls apart. Alison Redford was publicly attacked by one of her own MLAs who said she was "mean" and a "bully". Such a criticism of an equally successful male leader would only strengthen his leadership credentials, for an example look at our Prime Minister," he wrote.

And with regard to Pauline Marois, he suggests that she fell into a trap that all female premiers do.

"Successful political parties have a habit in Canada of not selecting women leaders. It's only when those parties are in desperation do they resort to gender equality, as if it's some last ditch effort to show the party is different. This was the case for every recent female Premier," Ross wrote.

"The five female Premiers that started this year were elected to lead failing political parties, they didn't have a chance. Each party that elected them was facing declining and dismal polling numbers."

What do you think?

Is the loss of all these female premiers in such a short period of time just a coincidence or there something more to it?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments area below.

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