Tag Archives: female candidates

Quotas, targets and strategies – how to get more female councillors

I have been asked how we consistently manage to elect a diverse group of Lib Dem councillors in Kingston, reflecting the local community in terms of gender and ethnicity.

I want to focus specifically on gender in this post, and that got me thinking about quotas and targets.

Quotas

Amongst the many strategies to get a better gender balance in education, employment and political representation, quotas have had their day. There is one simple problem with quotas – they are perceived as unfair all round.

Quotas in general carry the implication that those in the under-represented group are not able to achieve parity on their own worth; access can only be addressed by imposing restraints on selection. Quotas also create resentment amongst well-qualified people who do not fit the quota but who feel they have been overlooked in favour of someone who may be less qualified.

I do understand that quotas can be seen as a rebalancing exercise, but they are not sustainable unless they address the underlying causes of the imbalance. For that reason I was never a fan of all-women shortlists. They were seen as a quick fix to a specific problem in Westminster, although in the end the voters fixed it for us in a much more brutal way.

Targets

Targets can be helpful as a way of focussing attention on something that needs to improve. But they can also have unintended consequences, especially if resources are limited. For example, setting a target for treatment waiting times by the NHS for certain illnesses may result in resources being diverted from treatment for other illnesses.

When thinking about setting targets for recruiting Council candidates we must ask three questions:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 10 Comments

Opinion: Can pregnant women stand for Parliament?

Standing in the crypt of St Mary’s Church Lewisham asking local Lib Dem members to select me as their parliamentary candidate last summer I did wonder if my very pregnant stomach would put them off. During the selection campaign only one had asked me how I was going to do it with a new baby. “With the help of my partner, several doting grandparents and how about you too?”, was my reply.

Having fought an election campaign while pregnant, then through the first eight months of my baby daughter’s life, I want to let other women thinking of doing the same know that it is possible. It even has some advantages provided you get the help you need to do it.

Why should other Lib Dem Voice readers care? Because as Dinti Batstone highlighted in her research for the party into the under-representation of women among our MPs, ‘too many experienced female candidates self-select out just as their male contemporaries are fighting winnable seats’. And the main reason for that is the perceived incompatibility of the task with family life.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Opinion: Make politics fit women’s lives, not vice-versa

For today’s women “motherhood, not sexism, is the issue”. So says The Economist (“We Did It”, 30 December 2009), noting that “women who prosper in high-pressure companies in their 20s drop out in dramatic numbers in their 30s and then find it almost impossible to regain earlier momentum”.

Could the same be true in politics?

Nearly 80% of current male Lib Dem MPs first entered Parliament in their 30s and 40s. Yet our female MPs were overwhelmingly elected in their 20s or 50s, and not one was first elected while raising young children. Achieving the same age spread as the men could …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 9 Comments

Opinion: Mind the Gender Gap!

Surprisingly, fewer women (18%) than men (21%) support the LibDems, while for both Labour and the Tories the opposite is true.

Why?

Perhaps an explanation lies in Ming’s remark in Brighton last week that “we can’t represent a country if we’re not representative of it”.

School-gate mums and working parents are an important demographic, but not one of our parliamentarians is a mother of young children. It’s hard to show we empathise with family issues when women juggling politics and family life are all but invisible in the Lib Dems.

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Joseph Gerald Bourke
    Plain digestives are zero-rated. Biscuits covered or partly covered in chocolate or some other products similar in taste and appearance to chocolate are standar...
  • Brad Barrows
    @John Roffey And to extend your thinking, if Scotland had been a separate country and the rest of the UK has been an ally of Germany, maybe Scotland would have...
  • Jeff
    John Roffey 30th Jun '22 - 6:13pm: I thought this short video from the Dalai Lama provided much needed hope on Climate Change: His prayers do ...
  • Roland
    @Fiona - "Do we really think that poorer people aren’t allowed nice things, like chocolate biscuits" A packet of McVities Chocolate Digestives costs...
  • Cassie
    Just to correct Gordon, on a point of accuracy: the BBC does provide fact-checking. Eg: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/61967480...