The best of Democratic Audit’s 2014 posts on gender and democracy

The Democratic Audit UK blog, since its launch in July 2013, has sought to highlight the issue of gender in politics, with the aim of creating a more equitable balance in terms of gender representation and the UK’s political institutions. The below are eight of the best posts that DA has carried in 2014. 

Credit: ukhomeoffice, CC BY 2.0The lack of gender balance in positions of power remains untackled

Women continue to be under-represented in political positions of power, as well as in the upper echelons of the public sector more generally and in the media. Is this situation going to improve following the 2015 general election? Not likely, finds Nan Sloane. In this article she presents the findings of a report into gender equality in Britain and argues that some sort of positive action to increase the gender balance is necessary.


5480778103_66a5958a77_zThe lack of gender equality in EU decision-making means EU citizens are still suffering from a ‘double democratic deficit’

The EU has often been accused of having a democratic deficit with respect to deficiencies in the representation of citizens in EU decision-making. Joyce Marie Mushaben and Gabriele Abels discuss the role of gender equality in assessments of EU democracy, including the notion that the lack of an adequate gender balance in EU institutions constitutes a ‘double democratic deficit’. They argue that despite improvements in the number of female MEPs, there is still a chronic lack of women in key decision-making positions, particularly in the Commission and the Council.


10204919646_e397141578_zThe Conservatives’ failure to prioritise gender equality could cost them dear at the General Election

One of the features of British politics since the last General Election has been the widening of the gender gap in terms of voting intentions, with women more likely to back Labour. Here, the Conservatives have a blind spot, according to Claire Annesley and Francesca Gains, with their failure to support gender equality in a number of ways holding the potential to cost them dear electorally.


imageYoung women face gender-specific challenges that limit their political participation

Young women aged 18-24 are likely less to take part in elections than their male counterparts. As part of our new series on youth participation, Jacqui Briggs explores the reasons for this, showing how women face specific barriers because of their gender and are under-represented throughout the system. She argues that politicians need to address issues that affect women’s lives such as the gender pay gap and domestic violence to show young women that politics is relevant to them.


imageResistance to all-women shortlists in South Wales has a complex set of causes beyond gender politics, but that doesn’t make it right

The decision by the Labour Party to use an all-women shortlist to select its candidate to replace Ann Clywd MP in Cynon Valley has been opposed by local party members. Richard Berry finds echoes of a similar controversy in the Welsh valleys ahead of the 2005 election, where local voters defied the party’s wishes in favour of a male candidate.


(Credit: UK Home Office, CC BY 2.0)More women in Government: time for gender quotas

The current Government is notably male dominated, with both coalition partners having historical difficulties in attracting talented women to their ranks. This under-representation of women has a number of undesirable consequences, including largely shutting half the population out of the policymaking process. Claire Annesley argues that gender quotas in the executive would be the best way to remedy this problem, and help bring about a more equal society.


8427102406_4f48daec4b_zDespite the reshuffle, we are still a long way from a 50:50 gender balanced Parliament

Much has been made of the addition of a number of extra women to the Cabinet following David Cameron’s recent ministerial reshuffle. But despite the headlines, the UK still lags terribly behind other countries in terms of the levels of women in Parliament. Frances Scott, who is campaigning for a 50:50 balance in Parliament, argues that a debate in Parliament on the issue would be a decent starting point.


imageThe case for gender quotas for appointments to the UK Supreme Court

The UK’s Supreme Court has the lowest female representation among the highest courts of all OECD countries. In light of this, argues Kate Malleson, the previously dismissed case for gender quotas needs to be reconsidered in order to ensure continued public confidence in the Court’s work. In this post she discusses the different quota models that could be adopted, and answers some of the concerns set out out by opponents of the reform.

Note: this post represents the views of the authors and not those of Democratic Audit UK or the LSE. For image credits see the individual articles. Please read our comments policy before posting. 

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