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
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.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 15:08:16

yes and plenty other parents have jobs that dont/wont offer flexi/PT and they also have to suck it up

the reality for many is the main breadwinner is also at the behest of their employer too

and frankly the need to be in politics is slightly egotistical and they know the hours and conditions upon one sprung it upon them

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 15:15:52

But the answer surely is to improve conditions for all.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 15:20:21

yes global improvements and structural political change for all

>not just women and not tokenistic action for select groups.
>no discrimination is positive
>equality of access to employment and education

the misplaced perception that some groups in society eg women,minorities get a helping hand over the "ordinary" man has lead to a growing disaffection amongst a large amount of voters who feel displaced and vote BNP

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 15:22:50

Discrimination is absolutely positive if it redresses negative discrimination. If you acknowledge the existence of the latter then how can you object to the former?

And to blame positive discrimination for fascism is really wrong-headed IMO. There are many complex reasons for the rise of the BNP, but all-women shortlists are very far down the list.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 15:26:27

not at all,to promote one persons need you are forgoing another's,cherrypicking little causes.deserving and undeserving

discrimination is never positive and no amount of quasi-social science worthy spin can ever sanitise discrimination

always leaves a taint of only got post because of AA

Swedes Sat 13-Jun-09 15:28:11

I really can't believe how unrepresented women are. There is really only one way to solve it and that's for women to only vote for female candidates until there is greater representation. Perhaps Mumsnet could field a candidate in all seats? And be willing to drop out if the three main parties all field female candidates.

And if men aren't going to properly share the responsiblity of childbearing and rearing (and that includes their employer bearing half the responsibility for maternity benefits), perhaps we should seriously consider only carrying and giving birth to female babies?

Ewe Sat 13-Jun-09 15:29:48

But those professions don't particularly attract women/mothers either, politics isn't going to attract most women until something changes. Vast majority of the armed forces are men for this very reason. Ditto most of the City banks.

Yes, there are other organisations/industries that need to do the same but we are talking specifically about politics and why women in politics is still not common.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 15:32:39

i cant believe some of you are so hung upn gender

i intellectualise,consider and chose my MP upon ability not gender.i have absolutely no alignment or preference to someone because they happen to be female

ropey ground

so if it is alright to promote and positively discriminate for a gender,so can one do so on basis of
if that happens to be someone else preference

Ewe Sat 13-Jun-09 15:35:25

You might intellectualise and chose upon ability but I don't necessarily think that means everyone else does!

I think there are plenty of misogynists out there who would actively choose not to vote for a woman, regardless of competency.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 15:39:06

yes and plenty similarly prejudiced women who advocate voting female only

flip sides of same coin

you cannot embrace prejudice and discrimination and try but it on a leash as your wee tool.that is deluded to think you can sanitise and use prejudice and discrimination as agents of change

anyway you look at it
men only voting men
women only voting women
discriminatory bag o shite

Ewe Sat 13-Jun-09 15:44:25

The motives behind women only voting women and men only voting men are very different though.

Isn't the point of positive discrimination, over time, to make it so that people do vote on competencies and not gender because women being in politics would become the norm?

If nothing changes, then how will this happen?

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 15:48:25

ah i see you vote prejudicially to instigate positive change and well-being

crock of shite

keep kidding yourself on that you can harness prejudice and discrimination as agents of good and social change

it is prejudicial and favouritism to only have wimmin voting wimmin

god save us

hey was MThatcher,one of the sisters then.presumably you'd be compelled top vote for her if she were around

Ewe Sat 13-Jun-09 15:55:38

Are you responding to me? If so, please read my post again!

I asked two questions, said nothing about how I vote, or whether or not I agreed or disagreed with positive discrimination.


scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 16:02:25

ewe i am responding to globally the thread and specifically to

"There is really only one way to solve it and that's for women to only vote for female candidates until there is greater representation."

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 16:21:55

I'm not hung up on gender; I'm hung up on fairness.

Women have been, and continue to be, discriminated against. Quotas are the single most powerful weapon in the anti-discrimination armoury.

Discrimination is not a 'bad', you know. You poresumably discriminated when you chose your partner, or your job, or your friends. It's a perfectly legitimate tactic.

As for the taint of AA - I bet it doesn't keep Colin Powell awake at night, or any of his millions of co-beneficiaries. Because it's not unfair; it's fair.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 16:28:23

if you advocate fairness how can you use discrimination in your armoury?

you cannot sanitise discrimination or spin it as a positive agent for social change

the taint left is the accusation that positive discrimination places inadequate but pc groups into roles

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 16:32:50

Do you know which parliament, globally, has the highest proportion of female MPs? It's Rwanda. They use quotas there. Will be interesting to see whether massively significant policy and development issues such as maternal mortality, abortion provision, anti-sexual and domestic violence measures, female education, female business start-ups etc etc make fast progress in Rwanda over the next few years. My guess is that they will.

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 16:35:24

I can spin it as precisely that, SM, because it's true.

Positive discrimination reduces unfairness. It's as simple as that.

I can't see for the life of me why you're so unwilling to admit the context (massive historical and ongoing anti-female discrimination). It's impossible to have a sensible discussion about this if you don't admit the context.

We're not starting from a position of parity. We're starting from a position of ingrained, continuing disparity. Positive discrimination reduces the disparity.

I don't think I can put it any more plainly than that.

If disparity doesn't bother you, fair enough. But it's pointless to argue that positive discrimination is anything other than fair.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 16:35:25

saw a documentary once zealots who set up wimmin only commune
>naturally no men
>no male children
>espousing liberalism no misogynist ways
>egalitarian values

ah sisterhood a wonderful thing.alh gerls together

naturally all the loons fell out big time
all women were equal but some women were more equal than others

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 16:36:26

you cant polish a turd
you cant sanitise discrimination
kind of obvious

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 16:44:59

i dont share the belief that more women in politics is necessarily positive or will promote or facilitate social or political change

why should that be so

women are not a homogeneous mass,with shared values and ethos.nor do all women conceptualise the same needs or identify same priorities

are greater predictors of shared values then gender

maybe what does women a disservice is the belief that we naturally gravitate or should be aligned to other females.because of gender

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 16:52:04

Fair enough - if you're not bothered about redressing historical unfairness, you're not bothered.

But again: discrimination is not a turd. It is the application of judgement. It is not, in itself, a bad thing.

It becomes a bad thing when a society or culture appropriates a specific type of discrimination and applies it against a disadvantaged group. And white men (ie 80 per cent of MPs) are in no way a disadvantaged group.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 16:58:16

PW why must you infer i don't care because i don't share your beleiefs

slightly patronising to assert i am bereft of passion about inequality because i don't favour your .which incidentally isn't only way

it is hackneyed and corny to say ah well if you dont care enough.....oh what not care enough likey you?

so ease up on the snide remarks

ThingOne Sat 13-Jun-09 17:03:44

I'm not a fan of all women shortlists but there is a huge amount of discrimination against women in politics. Parliamentary candidates are vetted, trained and approved by the parties nationally. These processes are relatively fair to people from any background.

The problem comes when you get to the selection for an individual seat. Then the local party members get to choose who they want to represent them. Despite many efforts from all parties a huge number of these people still see a future MP as a white be-suited man in his mid-thirties to mid-forties, married with a lovely wife and preferably some children. They seem to have this view in their head and anybody who doesn't fit this model is starting with a disadvantage.

I've talked to many women involved in selection processes over the years. They get a hard time for having children (should be looking after them) or for not having children (hard career woman, not natural). They get a hard time for being married (your poor husband) or not being married (a bit odd). They get told they are too young to have enough experience if they stand before they have babies or too old if they wait until they are older. They get upbraided for wearing clothes that are too bright or too sombre. I had one friend who was told both in one selection campaign.

I could go on and on.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 17:07:12

perhaps remove the selection panel,widen the criteria.

>perhaps all party members able to vote upion candidates
>perhaps local constituency residents vote for candidates irrespective of party membership

ThingOne Sat 13-Jun-09 17:15:07

The parties have, in general, managed to beat the selection panels around the head about being fair, but they cannot change every local member. The local selection panels tend to sift through all applicants and decide which few to put forward for a vote amongst party/TU members.

The Tories have tried imposing candidates, and have tried "primaries" where any local resident could vote but these moves have not been hugely successful. The Labour party has imposed candidates and it's always unpopular.

I don't know what the answer is. I worked on this for years before children and thought I had some answers. But I'm royally fucked off about it all now.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 17:17:16

saw cameron on tv think he was trying to drag some codgers in 21stC

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 18:03:33

Eh? Your tone is routinely derisory and unpleasant.

'kind of obvious'
'cherrypicking little causes'
'crock of shite... keep kidding yourselves'

Jog on, love.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 18:07:21

have a day off demonising contrary opinions is clearly having an effect,hen

i of course shall continue to post.and not a jog or elevated hr in sight

Swedes Sat 13-Jun-09 18:41:19

<removes almost empty 1L bottle of cheap whisky from ScottishMummy's reach>

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 18:50:24

grin Swedes

SM, you really do seem to be struggling with basic logic here:

1) you pepper the thread with unpleasant remarks aimed at those who disagree with you. You are met with courtesy.
2) I mistakenly attribute a point of view to you.
3) You run around shrieking about snidery and demonisation.

I'm beginning to think we might need to introduce some positive discrimination measures for you

dittany Sat 13-Jun-09 19:08:10

"so if it is alright to promote and positively discriminate for a gender,so can one do so on basis of

That happens already though, that is the point.

There is a huge amount of discrimination in favour of white men, particularly upper class ones. It's why half the shadow cabinet are white male old Etonians.

We don't have white upper class men holding nearly every single position of power and influence in this country because of their talent and ability generally, it's because right through the system there are forces at work to keep women, people of colour and working class people out.

If you're offended by discrimination you should be decrying the actual discrimination that is going on right at this minute.

There is no democracy without representation and at the moment our sexist political parties are awash with discrimination and prejudice against women, as is a good chunk of the electorate.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 19:09:20

lets all piss ourselves at derogatory stereotypes.Drunk jocks & whisky

do you also do
jewsish people
black people
or just cheap shots at scottish

pull yourselves together.obviously i dont feel there has been a compelling enough case made

i don't conceptualise women as homogeneous mass,so don't think we necessarily have a shared common ethos and/or values

and yes swedes i do find this idea risible
"There is really only one way to solve it and that's for women to only vote for female candidates until there is greater representation."


"Perhaps Mumsnet could field a candidate in all seats?"
>what like one of the hang em flog em loons
>or precious moments mums must stay at home mamas

MN does nicely illustrate the depth and range of opinions held,and how deeply we all can feel

so lets see if everyone can have a dialogue without resorting to more mudslinging

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 19:18:06

dittany of course discrimination offends me to my core

which is why i abhor thought of taking discrimination and try use it as a agent of social change.anyway you wrap it up or spin it discrimination isnt a positive for promoting equitable change

structural change and political agitation is perhaps way to facilitate change.yes it wil take time

but on otherhand we have benefitted enormously from enlightened policy and agitation
eg equal pay act
women at uni
women in professions

i know there are societal and class injustices but some inroad have been made

dittany Sat 13-Jun-09 19:24:57

Until women have an equal share in political, economic and social power, which at the moment are all overwhelmingly held on to by men, we'll need to find solutions to those issues. Overall very few inroads have been made. Women are still at the bottom of the heap in almost every sphere.

As discrimination is at work already, there is no reason not to bring it out into the open and work to give women equal representation and a fair chance.

You do seem to abhor the thought of fairness a lot more than you abhor the gross unfairness that women face at the moment ScottishMummy. We've had forty years of the last round of feminism, it's over two hundred years since Mary Wollstonecraft wrote The Vindication of the Rights of Women yet still men cling to their unearned privileges. I would argue it's time for more drastic action.

dittany Sat 13-Jun-09 19:26:48

People hate Harriet Harman because she's a feminist and actually has done some good work for women.

A man in her position would be admired and seen as possible future leader, instead she's subject to a barrage of misogyny.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 19:28:25

i abhorr harman because she talks divisive rubbish.dont recognise her brand of feminism at all

dittany Sat 13-Jun-09 19:29:22

Could you provide some examples please ScottishMummy. She pretty much toes the Labour party line apart from on some feminist issues.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 19:32:45

plans to allow firms to discriminate in favour of female and ethnic minority job candidates when appointing for a job.

that is divisive and unfair,promoting positive discrimination in workplace

dittany Sat 13-Jun-09 19:34:46

What's divisive and unfair is the current practice of employers overwhelmingly discriminating in favour of white men to the detriment of everybody else.

I'm pretty sure Harman wouldn't recognise your "brand" of feminism either, but then I don't think many feminists would either. Maybe mens rights activists would feel more postive towards your opinions.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 19:38:50

how curious any of you encounter a divergent view and immediately attack
>oh you are like a man
>no feminist would recognise your pov SM>all mens rights that you SM

do try compose a cogent argument-without need to be so personal

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 20:07:53

Interesting document here from the Equal Opportunities Commission (as was) about the selection process for parliamentary candidates in the UK. Stark differences between male and female candidates when it came to views about positive discrimonation.

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 20:09:52

I've been tremendously cheered by having grown-up feminists like Harman and Smith in the cabinet. I know they've done some shite stuff too, but their work on equality, DV, anti-trafficking etc has been really admirable IMO. One very clear illustration of why someone's sex does make a difference.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 20:15:43

ok so to what to you attribute "stark difference" between men and women candidates on positive discrimination

can you clarify what you mean
are men Anti
Women Pro
is that what you mean

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 20:19:08

So how do we go about achieving global improvements for all? How do you get those who have to relinquish some of what they've got in order to even things up?

SM, you mentioned structural changes, what kind? How? Who's going to do it? What's their motivation? And political agitation - where, if anywhere, do you see that coming from? What will be driving force for it?

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 20:27:10

structural change
>increase spending in failing schols
>reduce class sizes in failing schoold
>employers given incentive to offer state school pupils interships/taster sessions
>encourage mentorship for pupils by someone in chosen field
>women in professions come talk to pupils
>financial incentive for poorer pupils to attend Uni/stay on at school.means tested

agitate and be active on your chosen interest
petitions etc
we vote MP they are our representatives

all this will take time.of course

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 21:32:21

Positive discrimination is used in the South African parliament, where women now occupy 30 per cent of the seats. Female parliamentarians there have devised a process whereby all governmental spending is analysed to to see whether its outcomes unreasonably favour men.

Positive discrimination is practised in Rwanda (see post below). Female parliamentarians there worked across party lines to repeal laws prohibiting women from inheriting land.

Positive discrimination is practised in Costa Rica. A 2002 study analysed parliamentary practices in the country and found that women parliamentarians were much more effective in terms of successfully transforming bills into acts.

Sweden has used positive discrimination in its parliament for decades. Nobody disputes that it is one of the most equal (in sex terms) societies in the world. Ditto Norway, on both counts. In the Nordic countries (which used quotas), women make up 41.4 per cent of MPs. In non-Nordic European countries that drops to 19.3 per cent. And remember, these are countries that have long recognised, supposedly, the justice of the feminist case for equal pay and equal representation.

No country has come close to achieving gender parity in parliament without using quotas.

dittany Sat 13-Jun-09 21:36:55

Can see why you call yourself policywonk, policywonk. grin

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 21:40:36

To be fair, 'googlehound' would probably be more appropriate in this instance wink I knew about Sweden (obviously) and Rwanda, but not about the others. 22 countries use quotas in national parliaments now.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 21:45:06

anyway back to my unanswered query

ok so to what to you attribute "stark difference" between men and women candidates on positive discrimination

can you clarify what you mean
are men Anti
Women Pro
is that what you mean

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 21:47:52

Good sleuthing pw. I will ask my Scandinavian colleagues about how this is perceived next time I see them.

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 21:48:16

SM, if you look at the link (I know links are annoying) you'll see that about twice as many women as men favour positive discrimination. These are women who've been through the process of candidate selection.

scottishmummy Sat 13-Jun-09 21:48:49

ok,thanks didnt see link

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 21:49:46

Yes, that would be interesting Len

SomeGuy Sat 13-Jun-09 22:36:31

IME positive discrimination is used in IT, there are so many blokes that any woman applying will stand out as a novelty and has a better chance of getting the gig.

Re MPs, I can't see that there will ever be 50% women simply because the process of becoming an MP is long and tedious and one that women are significantly less likely to pursue for family reasons/whatever.

As to whether the long apprenticeship of knocking on doors, serving as councillors, etc. is a good one, is a difficult thing to answer. I think the Tories and Labour are making an effort to parachute women in, whether that is fair to the people born with Y chromosomes is hard to say.

Positive discrimination can have unwanted side effects - the police wanted more women, but they found that women were less likely to pass the fitness test, so they reduce the required level for everyone to 'fat and slow'. Also they wanted more minority officers, they tried hiring minority officers over equally qualified white ones, this was deemed illegal, so they instead put the white recruits on a waiting list so that they would have to wait 2 years while minority recruits got in straight away.

There's been some controversy about the new Supreme Court appointee, she is female Latino, and she upheld the decision that a fire service promotion test that had no minority applicants pass was 'racist' and as a result NOBODY would get promoted. The person bringing the case paid for his own tutor to help him pass the test and was understandly upset.

I guess there's perhaps a stronger case for positive discrimination in politics than some other areas, because the perspective of women as against men is more relevant than the skin colour of firefighters.

Positive discrimination can certainly be used to excuse failure. The positive discrimination that goes in Malaysia for instance is shocking. The majority Malay race need something like 3 Cs to study medicine at University, while the minority Chinese need 3 As. The result of this is the Chinese study even harder to achieve the required level. And in terms of minorities, the most successful ethnic group in American society is Asian American - their incomes are significantly higher on average then whites. Most shortfalls are not the result of racism from white men, despite what some people seem to make out.

LeninGrad Sat 13-Jun-09 22:57:07

"By SomeGuy Sat 13-Jun-09 22:36:31: IME positive discrimination is used in IT, there are so many blokes that any woman applying will stand out as a novelty and has a better chance of getting the gig."

I'm in IT too and have always struggled to get agencies to send women through to us which is a shame. There either aren't any/enough applying or they're being weeded out for some reason before we get the CVs.

I've never employed or been employed for novelty factor (to my knowledge); most places are looking for a good fit, everything else being equal and that often leads to like recruiting like. This can be a mistake as a range of personality types and strengths are needed to make a really good team. Did quite a few courses on recruitment and studied it, it's all interesting stuff but I'd question the assertion you've made there.

dittany Sat 13-Jun-09 22:57:36

Labour are notorious for parachuting men into safe Labour seats Someguy, I'm not aware they've ever done the same for women. Look at the number of men in Brown's cabinet who were parachuted in - the Foreign Secretary is a case in point. Do you think he had ever even been to South Shields before he got given the seat there?

Also, it's more than likely that those lone women you see getting jobs in IT got them because they are competent, rather than the mediocre blokes who got their jobs because they had white skin, a penis or played golf with the managing director. Women generally have to be twice as good as men to reach the same positions.

The only positive discrimination at work at the moment is in favour of white men. All these proposals are about is trying to redress that balance.

policywonk Sat 13-Jun-09 23:01:25

SG, are you confusing positive discrimination with something else there?

Pos. dis. <lazy> is a stated policy that, if candidates are equal in other ways, employers can use gender as a tie-breaker (I wrote out 'use sex as a tie-breaker' but seems an unfortunate way of putting it. Would almost certainly lead to law suits as well), or the use of explicit quotas.

What you're describing is a suspicion that women get jobs because they stand out. This might or might not be true, but it's not really pos. dis.

My DP works in IT. It's overwhelmingly male. He gets quite excited when they get women in, poor thing.

SomeGuy Sat 13-Jun-09 23:31:04

IT bods don't play golf really, doubt that really figures in the hiring process much.

I guess it would depend on the office really as to recruitment processes. But I've done quite a bit of IT recruitment and I always look over the female CVs that bit more carefully. Give a different dynamic to the team.

I expect the reason agencies don't send out female CVs is because there aren't as many women in IT. I think interest/aptitude for it somewhat correlated with the autistic spectrum tendencies and various other predominantly male traits.

When I applied to university I had an interview at Imperial, which is a science college - it had this overiding geeky male aura - due to the fact that engineering type courses are predominantly taken by men. It was horrid, so I went to Cambridge instead.

SomeGuy Sat 13-Jun-09 23:48:27

Re positive discrimination in IT, yes we would choose the female candidate over the equally qualified male one.

As regards what 'positive discrmination' is, the term doesn't seem clear-cut. Wikipedia has it as "the practice of favoring members of a historically disadvantaged group at the expense of members of a historically advantaged group."

adding that it has been "held to be unconstitutional in the United States", but "affirmative action" is legal.

There are some interesting statistics there

apparently being black is equivalent to an extra 230 points on your SATs (and as such actually beats the 'old school tie' alluded to by dittany, in the form of children of benefactors, who 'only' get +160) and the black acceptance rate is twice as high at MIT and 67% at Harvard as the general acceptance.

Incidentally you don't get many black people in IT either, the only one I've worked with said he owed his success to the year he spent at private school courtesy of Margaret Thatcher's assisted places scheme. His mother was a motivated single mother from Dominica, and obviously supported him. Curiously enough he said that despite having plenty of money to afford it, he wouldn't send his son private because he doesn't think private education is entirely moral. I think he prefers the 'buy expensive house near posh state school' approach.

My understanding is that certain employers have tried various 'fair' ways of encouraging minority applicants, for instance recuritment days at Muslim and black festivals for the police, but it didn't produce the desired results so they do in fact choose discriminate against the majority (i.e. white male candidates).

Obviously such places (the BBC has a stated goal of achieving something like 15% ethnic minority staff, which is above the proportion in society) are the exception rather than the rule, but I do think that employers are aware of discrimination legislation - if you are a big company a 'golf buddies' recruitment process will end up with an office full of men, which would be pretty good prima facie evidence of discrimination. So I'm sure that this does figure in the recruitment process at some point.

Especially given that the gatekeepers, the HR department, are likely to be the most right-on department in the company, not to mention one of the ones with the highest proportion of female staff, for I guess the same reasons, in reverse, that IT is dominated by men.

SomeGuy Sat 13-Jun-09 23:52:52

here's the most recent example dittany: l

I'm sure there are plenty of interesting comments to make about the dynamic of that situation, but at least she was rejected for a female alternative.

And here's Boris on why it's all about having posh parents: gia-Gould---you-created-her.html

foxinsocks Sun 14-Jun-09 09:43:26

I'm just not sure there are as many women who want to be politicians as men. Maybe it's as simple as that.

Think the job would need to be more attractive to women first.

Read an article about how, for the first time, there are more women studying medicine than men so in the future, theoretically, there should be more female doctors than male. These historical sort of inbalances take a lot to redress but it can happen.

Being a politician isn't something you have to qualify for so it's hard to know where to start redressing the balance. Maybe we need to start advocating it as a career like we do medicine, engineering but it being an elected position means there's always a chance you'll want to do it but not be able to. Which must put off anyone but the most power crazy determined.

LeninGrad Sun 14-Jun-09 10:02:36

Just to plagiarise from another thread, DW said: "We don't achieve equality by being relentlessly even-handed in relationships between powerful and less powerful groups. We achieve it by challenging power."

I understand SM's pov and agree, the lower classes and disadvantaged groups everywhere need to rise up and demand change (well, I would, wouldn't I smile), but equally, am very persuaded by PW's research that we also need others to give it up a bit to push this change on, and if that means quotas and positive discrimination, then that should be done.

policywonk Sun 14-Jun-09 10:24:38

There def. seems to be a problem in the candidate selection process - a process that is analagous to recruitment in any other industry (as there's no equivalent of elections in any other industry).

Every other industry in the country is governed by discrimination laws that make it illegal for employers to make recruitment decisions based on childcare arrangements, marital status, haircuts etc. Yet the EOC document I linked to below shows that this is what happens to woman selection candidates.

In this way, quotas for women in Parliament could simply be seen as doing the same job as anti-discrimination laws in other industries.

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 14:30:36

I wouldn't have minded being a politician. If I was a bloke I'd definitely have had a stab at it, but there is no way I'm going to go into the male-dominated, woman hating culture that is politics (I've seen it up close so I know what I'm talking about). I don't have a thick enough skin.

Where quotas exist there appear to be plenty of women who want to step up and take the challenge foxinsocks so I think you are incorrect that women aren't interested.

foxinsocks Sun 14-Jun-09 16:43:04

yes but in a way you've proved my point. I said I didn't know whether women weren't interested or were being put off (and whether there just weren't as many women who wanted to be politicians as men - am just musing, don't know the answers) and obviously, in your situation, you were put off.

I would be put off too tbh. I think, to redress the balance without quotas or positive discrim, you need to totally overhaul the way politics is now because it is male dominated and hideously sexist as far as I'm concerned.

Someguy, re the Georgia Gould thing, that was horrendously misjudged. They had a brilliant candidate in Teresa Pearce, someone who had had an interest in politics for a very long time and knew the local area and had tirelessly campaigned to get where she was (actually, I think she may have been a member of Emily's List which may be of interest to you lot - Emily's list exists to help female labour candidates).

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 16:52:01

Cherie Blair is the one I always think of. She was top of her year at the LSE, had a solid Labour activist background, however Tony tagged to a couple of meetings with her, and the Labour party singled out him to be parachuted into an extremely safe northern Labour seat whilst Cherie was given a seat to fight and lose in the conservative heartland. If it had been the other way around there's no way around there's no way a very talented man's mediocre wife would have been given that kind of treatment over and above him, but by virtue of his penis Tony Blair was given the opportunity to leap far ahead of his much more intelligent and talented wife.

foxinsocks Sun 14-Jun-09 16:57:14

lol at by virtue of his penis

it is so awfully male dominated, it makes me shudder

I also think that Labour would/have do more for women in politics than the Tories would. I know the Tories have some female MPs (very few) but I get the feeling that their old guard still feel that women belong in the kitchen and not in the House of Commons.

policywonk Sun 14-Jun-09 19:53:29

Actually, WRT the Blairs, it seems to me that Cherie is so totally infatuated with the old fool (rather sweet after however many decades I suppose) that she chose to sacrifice her political career for his - or was it that he got a winnable seat before she did? (In which case we're back to the selection problem.)

She'd have been a great Labour MP in the Short/Mowlam tradition I think - if she could have kept her lust for cash under control. (Imagine what her expenses claims would have looked like...)

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 20:11:40

He got the winnable seat before she did. It was back in the eighties when things were even more difficult for women in the Labour party than they are now. At least the unreconstructed chauvinists have to pay lipservice to equality for women these days.

Cherie and Tony made a pact that whoever got to be MP first would get the political career. Of course he got parachuted into Sedgefield rather than the Tory heartland that Cherie had to fight in so the outcome was pretty obvious from the start. The point is why didn't the Labour party put Cherie into Sedgefield and the answer to that is sexism.

policywonk Sun 14-Jun-09 20:37:21

Yes, that's it, thanks. Had a vague feeling there was something like that.

So it's the selection process - which, to be fair, Labour identified in the run-up to '97 and tried to address with all-women shortlists.

abraid Sun 14-Jun-09 20:48:20

As a highly-educated professional the thought of positive discrimination makes me cringe.

I am raising a daughter to be at least as highly-educated and professional as me. If I thought someone would discriminate in her favour just because she's a girl I'd feel angry.

policywonk Sun 14-Jun-09 20:50:46

How do you feel about the current reality (in politics at least), which is that she would be discriminated against for being a woman? Doesn't that deserve a radical response?

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 21:01:06

why do some assume women will necessarily any better politicians?

we arent a homogenous mass.being the same gender does not inherently make one in tune and sensitive to all other women

i dont even think there are womens issues in politics per se.i think there are issues directly affecting women eg gynae/maternity provision.but hate when it is assumed women can only authoritatively speak on womens issues

i wouldnt vote or anyone on basis of gender
ability yes
gender no

Ewe Sun 14-Jun-09 21:07:49

I don't think anyone is necessarily assuming they will be better, just assuming they are as good and capable as men and therefore should be equally as electable. At the moment that isn't the case.

I'm not a huge fan of positive discrimination in principle but I am not sure what other solution there is, so I would probably in this situation be in favour of it or quotas.

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 21:13:37

but the implication is more women= better or else why bother manipulating selection

should be electable on own merits not by favouritism

Ewe Sun 14-Jun-09 21:29:51

More women = equal, not better.

Why should we be run by a government where men are the majority? Do most people in this country actually feel well represented by a white middle class man? I suspect not.

I don't think that there should just be more women in the house, I think there should be more ethnic minorities, people from different backgrounds etc.

A diverse government with lots of different experiences and passions is my ideal but electing people on own merits isn't even making this a possibility, let alone a reality.

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 21:30:32

More women equals more democratic representation for women. Women's issues and women's rights are much further up the agenda in countries where there are higher numbers of women in politics. Nobody said women would necessarily be better politicians than men. That's a straw man.

Do you think men would stand for it if 80% or whatever it is of parliament were women and every prime minister we've had bar were women? It's grossly unfair and against natural justice.

If you prefer being ruled by men though SM, maybe you should trot along to Saudi Arabia or Iran. They don't hold with any silly notions of political representation for women there.

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 21:31:26

"bar one"

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 21:41:34

dittany to try make a cogent arguemnt without resorting to putdown

ok so lets get down to it - which women?

most likely middle class educated will present

how is that any more representative to a working class woman in council scheme

Do most people in this country actually feel well represented by a white middle class man? I suspect not.

nor will they feel better represented by white middle class women.who are most likely to have desire to stand

or else what?quotas of women based upon

policywonk Sun 14-Jun-09 21:45:20

They should be electable on their own merits, SM, yes. But all the evidence is that they are not.

Put it this way: do you accept that women are discriminated against in their attempts to enter Parliament?

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 21:47:31

yes,of course i do.structurally and culturally politics is a bear pit but positive discrimination isnt way to go

policywonk Sun 14-Jun-09 21:53:23

What about my argument below re. sex discrimination legislation? Politics is one of the few careers in which discrimination legislation doesn't apply. Women are protected from the worst excesses of sexism in most other careers; why not in politics too?

I'm not prepared to wait around for society to do its dreary business. We've had equal pay legislation for something like 30 years; women still don't get paid as much as men for the same work. It would be nice if society could be trusted to sort this stuff out by itself, but the truth is that it doesn't. At the current rate of change, we'd achieve gender parity in Westminster after about two centuries. Why should the next 10 generations of women continue to be discriminated against?

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 22:03:23

That wasn't a put down SM, that was following your argument to its logical conclusion.

Every argument you have put here has been in favour of maintaining the status quo and thus continuing the sexist discrimination against women that disfigures our political landscape.

I think men in this country probably do feel reasonably well-represented by our overwhelmingly male parliament. Certainly better represented than the women in this country feel.

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 22:06:19

Anyway, you carefully avoided my question whilst fibbing that I was putting you down. I'll repeat:

"Do you think men would stand for it if 80% or whatever it is of parliament were women and every prime minister we've had bar one were women?"

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 22:11:24

parachuting in a few token women doesnt redress longstanding issues it probably exacerbates problem of women not being taken seriously enough

and legitmises the "oh she only got the job because she is a woman" argument.because they'd beparachuting in on gender

anyway you potentially take a bunch of middle class educated suits and replace them with middle class educated skirts.doesnt necesarily mean they will be any better

yes there is a long way to go but on professional courses like medicine and law over 50% of undergraduates are female

women obtain better degrees than men
a new 2009 study by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) asserts

not only do women outnumber men overall at university, they also outnumber them at every type of university. They are also more likely to get a good degree pass (a 2:1 or a first) and are less likely to drop out.

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 22:14:59

Jesus H. Christ, political parties parachute men in to parliamentary seats all the time but it doesn't stop men being taken seriously enough.

If people don't take women seriously that's because they are misogynists. You don't let misogynists set the agenda. That's a terrible argument against requiring political parties to ensure that their candidates reflect the electorate.

Nice one calling women skirts though. Still working on that feminism then SM. (Now that one was a put down).

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 22:16:41

dittany,the put down was you liken my views to those of oppressive regimes and suggest i go live there.

if that is your chosen style of debate- fair enough

just doesnt make you look like a smart bear

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 22:16:43

The point is that there are a whole lot of men in politics who you could safely say about "He only got the job because he's a man/old Etonian" but people don't because sexism rules the day and we aren't supposed to notice all the "positive" discrimination at work in favour of men. It's just the way things are.

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 22:19:22

Like I said it was taking your argument to its logical conclusion. If you don't like your sexism being compared to that of regimes in the Middle East perhaps you should try not to have views that resemble theirs.

Also if you don't approve of put downs then why are you saying stuff like this?:

"just doesnt make you look like a smart bear"

policywonk Sun 14-Jun-09 22:20:41

I don't think we're going to agree SM grin

I disagree that the fact of women's sex doesn't make a difference. I don't think issues such as trafficking and DV would have been addressed as determinedly by a male Home Secretary, for example. And my post below about the global situation gave a few examples of how women's gender can make a difference, including the study that indicated that they are more effective parliamentarians (possibly because of women's greater capacity - whether by nature or nurture - for forming alliances and working in teams, and their willingess to cross party lines).

Secondly, I don't agree that society by itself will right this wrong - at least, not within an acceptable timeframe.

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 22:21:08

yes new fangled linguistic nuances! i hear some skirts women even use jokey parlance without expecting to get head jumped upon

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 22:22:25

no chance of agreement on tactics here
but i do agree politics is a bear pit

dittany Sun 14-Jun-09 22:25:02

Well you can call it new fangled linguistic nuance if you want, although I think you might find your tongue in knots after saying it.

I'd call it old-fashioned common or garden misogyny however. "Skirt" is a nasty term for women, probably one you'll find bandied around in most of our political parties though.

scottishmummy Sun 14-Jun-09 22:27:17

cant hang about im googling plane tickets to oppresive-regimes-R-US

abraid Mon 15-Jun-09 09:35:05

Iran looks lively at the moment. Promise you won't book for Teheran.

EachPeachPearMum Wed 17-Jun-09 21:42:12

Is it really necessary to have half of our elected representatives being female?

10% of the population are convicted criminals, but I wouldn't advocate 10% of MPs or councillors being criminals <<thinks>>.... there's probably a really droll comment in there somewhere...

nenaday Mon 15-Jul-13 12:55:03

Counting Women In: a charter for equality, was started in 2011 by, among others, the Centre for Women and Democracy, the Electoral Reform Society, the Fawcett Society, and the Hansard Society. This is very much like the 300 Group in both its aims and members, and just like the 300G was launched at Westminster with MPs from all major parties present.It has a website, and people can become members.

In answer to a question further down.... each party selects candidates differently. The Labour Party introduced All-Women shortlists in a limited number of constituencies prior to the 1997 election, and then a time-limited law that would permit parties to use measures to promote female candidacy until 2015.

Opposition to such measures assumes that present practices are fair and democratic. They simply are not.Apart from general processes that tend to exclude people who are not white, professional, male, able bodied and young-ish, overt discimination takes place, although not very publically as selection committees are not very public affairs. The Fawcett Society sponsored stunning research by Joni Lovenduski and others around the 2002 election, which can probably still be accessed through their website.

nenaday Mon 15-Jul-13 14:10:01

Re comments from Policywonk.... yes, South Africa, like some 60 other countries operates a form of quota. Some countries that operate a gender quota also operate quotas for other groups (ethnic, religious etc). Most quotas are voluntary and at party level for the selection of candidates. Some entail seats set aside for women (India and Pakistan), and some countries have legislated for quotas (France has legislation for "Parity"). Worth noting that the Labour Party has used measures to promote the selection of female candidates in Scotland for the Scottish Parliament, and in Wales for the Welsh Assembly.
The Women's Budget projects that PolicyWonk refers to are quite common. South Africa, Uganda, Australia and the UK have them along with many other countries. The Women's Budget Group in the UK objected to this government's first budget in court on the grounds that it had not been tested to ensure that it did not have unfairly gendered outcomes. The finding was in favour of the WBG (supported by the Fawcett Society among others) and against the government. I expect details of this are on the Fawcett website. It is interesting to read just how biased the budgetary outcomes were against women.

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