The 300 Group- women in politics- still a hidden struggle?

(124 Posts)
EachPeachPearMum Sat 13-Jun-09 00:20:58

The 300 Group- an all party campaign for women in parliament, politics and public life.
Do you think there is a place for a group like this nowadays? Should women in politics be on the agenda in electoral reform?
(Were you even aware it had folded? I wasn't... but I am hardly up-to-date on these matters)

Should we be supporting and promoting women's entry into politics? Is it necessary? Is it unfair?

Would greater numbers of female politicians lead to an increase in awareness of issues that affect women or improved legislation?

There isn't even a wiki page for the 300 group - which I find astonishing...
though I have found a few useful links on google:

Piece about the founding of the 300 group

Evidence given by Lesley Abdela to parliament on female representation- May 2009

Lesley Abdela in the Guardian last year

EachPeachPearMum Sat 13-Jun-09 00:26:40

Meant to say... should there be quotas?

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 00:29:21

We should still support initiatives like this but it's interesting the amount of women who have stepped down from higher profile roles in order to spend more time with their families.

I know this is a euphemism, but I remember one bloke doing this, legitimately, and to much derision, but at least several women, without too much comment.

Maybe the current setup just doesn't have the working practices/culture a lot of women would like?

EachPeachPearMum Sat 13-Jun-09 00:34:32

So- should parlimentary culture support the practicalities of family life?
(Of course, its a whole different debate as to why most MPs don't need that support, and why most men are not responsible for running their family's life...)

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 00:37:46

Absolutely, I really don't see why they can't vid/tele conf, vote from afar or debate in the mornings, vote in the afternoons and go home if they have to be present etc

EachPeachPearMum Sat 13-Jun-09 00:42:32

Do you think the burden on politicians is too great though?
I am not necessarily thinking of parliamentarians, but local politicians too...
They have a job (usually), council/parliamentary duties, contituents' support, etc. It seems like a hell of a lot to do before even thinking about looking after a family.

FWIW I think it is abysmal that MPs can claim for Duck Islands yet cannot legitimately claim nannys' fees when there is no other way for them to have their children cared for and carry out their duties.

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 00:50:09

Yes, but the arguments I've heard against doing it radically differently is that it would create a professional political class which could lead to its own problems.

OTOH, it's difficult to see why they should give up all outside interests/other work when they could be out on their ear at a whim! But maybe that's the career deal you enter into, and it opens other doors of course.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 01:05:09

i abhor the notion of wimmin by default a nod to pc or quota

good politics is genderless,we delude ourselves to say other,

Harman=harpie who devalues mainstream politics by braying and trying to genderise politics.

not all wimmin are sisters
look at MThatcher
iwould not vote on basis of gender alone

EachPeachPearMum Sat 13-Jun-09 09:24:32

sm- do you think though that issues such as equal pay are far down the agenda simply because most politicians are male- they aren't the ones losing out.
The equal pay act is 30 years old, but the gap in pay between genders is still over 20% (I believe, can't check at present- bf baby)

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 09:31:17

I think all else being equal (experience/ability/skills etc), I'm happy with women and people from other disadvantaged groups getting a job over others, until the world has evened out. Not sure what you do then if equal ops scoring methods bring people out at the same score...

Anyway, I'm sure parliament and the MP selection process are far from using methods such as these.

edam Sat 13-Jun-09 09:37:20

politics is clearly not genderless or we'd have three times as many female MPs as we've actually got. And three times as many women in the Cabinet. And SOME women in the Shadow Cabinet. And no-one would make crass, tedious remarks about 'Hatperson'.

Asking nicely has got us precisely nowhere. What do those of you who oppose positive discrimination suggest?

edam Sat 13-Jun-09 09:38:41

(My mother was in the 300 group back in the '70s - I remember she thought it might actually make a difference. Ho ho ho.)

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 12:07:25

leningrad are you alluding to positive discrimination?no discrimination is positive

to select and prioritise one group's set of needs in preference to another to try redress some perceived inequality is barking

go back to the structural components that fail people
>poor schooling
>class and poverty
>limited expectations

imo educational attainment and employment,is the way up and out and can give genuine progress and achievement

maybe better schools,
more money smaller class size in under achieving schools
mentorship
vocational guidance
supported employment trials etc

not some token oh you are disadvantage have a job in preference to someone who isnt

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 12:10:36

But some women have had these things for a generation or more and we're still not equally represented in all sections of the workplace. Is it just going to take even longer?

foxinsocks Sat 13-Jun-09 12:11:27

'FWIW I think it is abysmal that MPs can claim for Duck Islands yet cannot legitimately claim nannys' fees when there is no other way for them to have their children cared for and carry out their duties.'

well how do you think other women who work manage? none of us get to claim nanny fees (nor do fathers for that matter!)

maybe women are sensible by not becoming politicians. I can't, in my wildest dreams, even imagine wanting to do that job tbh. So I don't know whether it's because women want to do it but feel they can't or whether they just genuinely aren't interested.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 12:20:54

pushing a tokenistic few through breeds resentment and legitimately annoys people that positive discrimination chooses whom to propel and ignores others

look at the disaffected working classes voting for BNP.they are not the recipient of positive discrimination.many feeling overlooked and excluded

how can we honestly say we want to be taken equally and seriously in work and society but use discrimination to do so

affirmative action in the USA caused a lot of resentment and consternation and is regarded as discredited by many. creating another layer of prejudice eg he/she only got the job because of AA not ability

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 13:14:52

I come from a working class background and benefited from an increase in the number of places and funding in higher education. Now, I still got there on merit, but I doubt I'd have made it if those places hadn't been made available.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 13:18:01

well obviously more places=greater uptake,but you got in on grades not your class

i was the 1st person in my family to go to uni.grew up on a council scheme.and yes the expansion of higher ed benefited me too

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 13:20:21

But we can't increase the number of MPs, so what do we do about increasing the numbers of women in those roles?

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 13:24:10

put forward credible legitimate candidates,same selection as men

if candidate is good people will vote

i wouldn't vote on basis of gender.ever
i want an intelligent hard working industrious honest mp.regardless of gender

i don't care about number of women MP
i care about integrity and calibre of candidates

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 14:18:33

I'm not sure how the selection of candidates is done by the parties, will have to look it up and have a think.

Once selected though, I wonder if a stalwart party voter would switch allegiance based on the gender of the candidate, probably (hopefully) not I suspect.

Ewe Sat 13-Jun-09 14:45:34

I think it is impossible to have a young family and be an MP for most women. They often sit until 10pm at night, unless you have a London or South East constituency you would be away Mon - Thur and then spend a day at least doing things in the community.

Yes, you get a reasonable amount of time off over the summer but I don't think that would make up for missing so much the rest of the year. I can't imagine that the PM would take too kindly to an MP missing a debate for a school play - that is pure speculation of course!

I wouldn't/couldn't do it, even though I think there should be and want more women in parliament.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 14:50:58

like the rest of us who work cant they make arrangements?plenty police,nhs working shifts past 10 and on way less wages,still manage a family without long summer recess and xmas off

mp's dont have it any harder than any other working parents.who find it hard to leave a demanding meeting for childcare cmmitment

Ewe Sat 13-Jun-09 15:02:44

I think for the vast majority working away for most of the week with young children is not really an option. I certainly wouldn't do it, regardless of how much it paid.

Police tend to work 4 on and then 4 off, not 5/6 on to 1 off which is what I understand most MPs to do. And yes, nhs workers work shifts but these tend to be a shift pattern and they offer flexible working.

The difficulty with being an MP is that there isn't any scope for working part time or flexibly in any way. You can't say, I'm coming back from mat leave now my baby is one, I only want to work Mon, Tue and Thur. Or work remotely. I think saying it is no harder than for any other working parent is a bit naive.

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 15:05:31

Very much disagree with SM re. the quota thing. Quotas work, no doubt about it. Minority/disadvantaged groups almost never (I'd say absolutely never but there might be some weird exception out there I've not heard about) attain parity without positive discrimination. Look at the huge strides taken by the black professional classes in the US on the back of positive discrimination measures there - hasn't solved the problem of racism or discrimination in the US by any means, but it has made a huge difference in the number of highly visible black people in demanding professional positions.

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