MONTREAL - For the first time, Quebec started the year with a woman in charge.

And some feel that having Premier Pauline Marois at the helm could be powerful inspiration for many young woman who had never thought of going into politics.

“It can show girls and women and also men, that women can be in politics and they can be at the highest point,” said Manon Tremblay of the University of Ottawa.

Tremblay, an expert in female participation in politics, understands that it's still important to be a solid candidate, as voters base their ballots on policy, not gender identification.

In Montreal city politics, 21 elected city officials, about one third of the total, are women.

One of the key players is likely mayoral candidate Louise Harel whose policies are meant to be more family-friendly than previous administrations.

Harel was first elected as a Parti Quebecois MNA in 1981. She was asked, as a mother of a five-year-old, how she would balance motherhood and politics.

“I asked the same question to Mr. Levesque and Mr. Bourassa,” she said.

Bloc Quebecios MP Maria Mourani is another prominent Montreal-based female politician and suggests that women need to be encouraged because they often drop out after a promising start.

“They don't have the self-confidence. They think it's for men,” she said.

But she believes female participation will grow.

“I'm very optimistic. I'm sure it's going to be more and more women, more and more young people, girls and men it's going to be more and more.”