Women at the Top 2005: Changing Numbers, Changing Politics? (Nov 2005)
Sarah Childs, Joni Lovenduski & Rosie Campbell
ISBN 978 0900432 97 2
Available free via download
This report from the Hansard Society calls on all political parties to use ‘equality guarantees' to ensure parity of representation at Westminster. The report, Women at the Top 2005: Changing Numbers, Changing Politics? examines the presence and role of women in political life today.
In the report the authors, Dr. Sarah Childs, Prof. Joni Lovenduski and Dr. Rosie Campbell, consider the political recruitment of women candidates at the 2005 general election; making comparisons with both the UK devolved institutions and international institutions.
The authors highlight the fact that Labour women MPs constitute 77 per cent of all women MPs. All political parties had the chance to use All Women Shortlists under the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002, but only Labour took this opportunity. The Conservative Party was opposed in principle and the Liberal Democrats were divided. Evidence shows that in the absence of measures that guarantee parity of representation, change will be limited and incremental.
Their case studies indicate that there are sex differences in attitudes between men and women representatives, particularly in relation to women's concerns and perspectives. They also find evidence that the presence of women in parliament can have a ‘feminising' affect on legislation.
Their key finding is that, without ‘equality guarantees', women will continue to be severely under-represented for the foreseeable future. The report is adamant that women's equal political representation is vital for simple reasons of justice and fairness.