Huguette Bouchardeau, née Briaut, was born in Saint-Étienne, France, to a working-class family. She studied philosophy at the University of Lyon, where she joined the National Union of Students (UNEF) and was elected secretary of the Lyon student association in 1955. That year, she married Marc Bouchardeau, a psychologist, with whom she had three children. She passed the agrégée (civil service teaching exam) in philosophy and taught at the Lycée Honoré d'Urfé in Saint-Etienne, then was a lecturer at the University of Lyon 2. She helped found of one of the first academic women's studies programs in France, the Centre lyonnais d’études feminists. She joined the Parti socialiste unifié (PSU) or United Socialist Party, and was elected its National Secretary in 1979, making her one of the first women in France to lead a political party. She ran unsuccessfully in the 1981 presidential election (receiving only 1.1 percent of the vote). In 1981, she was invited to become Secretary of State for Environment and Lifestyle in the Socialist Party-led cabinet of Pierre Mauroy, and later served as Environment Minister in the Fabius administration. She has written several books, including biographies of George Sand and Simone Weil, and Pas d'histoire, les femmes (No Story for Women, 1977), which denounced the exclusion of women from French public life.