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Q: roles of women in politics ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: roles of women in politics
Category: Reference, Education and News > Current Events
Asked by: vidolala4321-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 09 May 2004 13:30 PDT
Expires: 08 Jun 2004 13:30 PDT
Question ID: 343646
roles of women in politics in the uk. restricted to the uk. 2000
words. with reference

Request for Question Clarification by umiat-ga on 09 May 2004 15:42 PDT
Hello, vidolala4321-ga!

 I will gladly compile excerpts and summaries of articles pertaining
to the role of women in UK politics so that you can organize the paper
according to your own style. References to each bit of information
will be included.

* However, researchers are discouraged from writing actual papers for customers.

 Please let me know if this will be adequate. 


Clarification of Question by vidolala4321-ga on 11 May 2004 07:29 PDT
it will be adequate
Subject: Re: roles of women in politics
Answered By: umiat-ga on 12 May 2004 18:14 PDT
Hello, vidolala4321-ga! 

 I have provided a basic introduction for you on the roles of women in
UK politics. While I have said it would be unethical for me to write a
full paper for you, the initial beginning text is approximately 925
words. After the introduction, which includes footnotes, I have
provided further excerpts from each footnoted reference in case you
want to include more detailed information about each point. To help
you "flesh out" your paper, I have included further references to
topics that you might wish to include and expand upon. There should be
plenty of information to finish compiling a 2000 word paper.

 Since you have chosen an extremely broad topic, I have no way of
knowing the direction you want to pursue in your essay. After you have
reviewed the information and utilized some of the additional
references, feel free to ask for more detail on any *specific* topics
you would like to include. I will try to dig up further references for
you if you need them, once I have something specific to pinpoint in my

Queen Elizabeth and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are two of
the most well-known women in twentieth-century UK political history.
Queen Elizabeth has reigned over the United Kingdom since 1952.
Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United
Kingdom in 1979 and held the position for almost twelve years. Only
four other Prime Ministers in UK history have served longer terms. (1)

Dame Brenda Hale has also joined the ranks as a prominent political
role model for women in the UK. Hale recently made legal history when
she became the first woman judge appointed to sit on the traditionally
all-male British Supreme Court. The appointment is seen as an attempt
by the British government to make the twelve-member court more
representative of the British citizenry. "As Lord Falconer has
observed, Britain has never had a woman in its top court, the House of
Lords. "What other country can you say that about?" he asked." (2)

Despite the fact that these women hold such prominent posts, political
roles for women in the United Kingdom are still wanting. According to
the Fawcett Society, Britain currently has one of the lowest levels of
female political representation in Europe. (2)  Consider the fact that
Britain has had only one female Prime Minister throughout it's
history. Even more telling is the glaring inequality between male and
female Members of Parliament. According to 2003 statistics, only 18%
of the total Members of Parliament are women. (1)

The historical battle over voting rights for women contrasts with the
current state of political non-representation for women in the UK
today. Beginning in 1867 with John Stuart Mill's initial debates in
Parliament, followed by battles to secure voting rights by the Women?s
Social & Political Union and the Suffragette movement, the fight to
secure representation for women was hard won. (3)

Discrimination and cultural limitations have been blamed for the
scarcity of women in political office. The absence of female role
models in prominent political positions has further contributed to the
political participation among UK female voters. It has been
demonstrated that women become more politically involved when they are
in seats with women MP's. (4)(5)

The Electoral Commission, which was established to encourage female
voters, has shown that women are "turned-off" by male MP's and less
likely to get involved in political campaigns when a male is at the
helm. However, the commission found that "in constituencies where a
female MP was elected in 2001, turnout among women was 4% higher than
men." (6)

While voter turnout has equalized between men and women, there is
still a gap in political activism. The Electoral Commission's report,
titled "Gender and Political Participation," highlights several
reasons for the "activism gap". Gender roles, economic barriers,
educational level, lack of political confidence and perceptions of
male dominance all contribute to the lack of female participation and
political role assumption in the United Kingdom. (7)

In order to boost female representation in political seats, various
forms of positive action have been proposed. Positive action is
essentially a quota system implemented to ensure that women are
equally represented in political office. This is not to imply that
women do not possess the intellect and ability to succeed on their
own. Rather, the current male-dominated system often prevents them
from achieving success, despite their knowledge and ability. (8)

The Labour party implemented positive measures in the form of
all-women shortlists in 1977, nearly doubling the number of women
holding seats in Westminster from 62 to 121. When this action was
ruled potentially illegal, the practice was dropped, resulting in a
dramatic drop in elected female candidates in future elections. A
campaign by the Fawcett Society successfully pushed for an amendment
to the Sex Discrimination Act, thereby cementing the legality of
positive measures to help increase political representation by women.

Minority and ethnic females are also under-represented in the
political arena. Statistics from April, 2003 reveal that just two
percent of councilors on local government councils represented Black
or Minority Ethnic groups. (9)

Government decentralization, or devolution, along with the
implementation of positive measures, has seen an increase in the
number of political roles held by women in Scotland and Wales. Women
currently account for 40% of MP's in Scotland. The Welsh Assembly is a
testimony to the results of using positive measures to achieve a more
balanced political representation. As a result of using positive
measures, the Welsh Assembly is now the only parliament in the world
with equal numbers of women and men. (9)

Attitudes towards women in political office seem to be changing in
Ireland as well, although slowly. According to the 2002 Northern
Ireland Life and Times Survey, "when asked what proportion of senior
government posts should be held by women, only one fifth of men in
1991 thought that half or more of senior government posts should be
held by women, but this had doubled to 40% in 2002. Among women,
support had gone up from 38% to 50%." However, the barriers to female
participation in political life are seen as primarily stemming from
the women themselves. Over 70% of men and women agreed that women
simply don't come forth as political candidates, and that family holds
a higher priority for women than a career in politics. (10)

While devolution has provided an atmosphere conducive to positive
political change for women in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, it is not
the reason behind the louder feminist voice. Rather, determination and
activism by different alliances of women in the three countries has
been the driving force behind increased political opportunities for
women. (11)

(1) "Women in the House of Commons." Factsheet M4. House of Commons
Information Office (2003)

(2) "UK's first woman law lord appointed," by Clare Dyer. The
Guardian. October 24, 2003.,12913,1069853,00.html

(3) "The Role of Women in Politics." Source:  Khilafah Magazine -
August 2003 Edition.

(4) "Fawcett Briefing: The Four C's."

(5) "Women Need Political Role Models," by Sandra Gidley. Liberal
Democrats (April 2, 2004)

(6) "Women 'turned off by politics'," by Jackie Storer. BBC News.
April 27, 2004.

(7) "New study shows that women are less active in politics than men."
The Electoral Commission. 27 Apr 2004

(8) "Fawcett Briefing: The Need for Positive Action." The Fawcett Society.

(9) "Campaigning for More Women in Public Life." Fawcett Society.

(10) "Women's Hour." Yvonne Galligan and Lizanne Dowds. The ARK.
Northern Ireland Social & Political Archive.

(11) "Gender and Constitutional Change - SHORT SUMMARY." End of Award Report


The footnoted references follow with additional excerpts that you may
choose to use to flesh out the points made in the introduction. After
these references, I have compiled additional information that may also
be used for other points of interest.


(1) "Women in the House of Commons. Factsheet M4. House of Commons
Information Office (2003)

According to the UK Government Factsheet M4: 

* 118 women elected as Members of Parliment in the June 2001 election. (The 
  highest number of women ever elected was in 1997, when 120 women were

  The breakdown:

  95 Labour
  14 Conservative
   5 Liberal Democrat
   1 Scottish Nationalist
   1 Ulster Democratic Unionist
   1 Sinn Fein
   1 Ulster Unionist      

* 3 women hold Minesterial posts - 26 MP's and 9 Peers. 3 Government Whips are 

* MP Gwyneth Dunwoody holds the record as the female with the longest unbroken 
  service, having been elected in 1974.

* Historically, of the 4,531 House of Common Members since 1918, only 252 (6%)
  have been women. 

* The first elected woman to take a seat in the House of Commons was 
  Viscountess Astor in 1919, who introduced the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

* The first woman to hold Ministerial office was Margarte Bondfield, who was 
  appointed Minister of Labour in 1924.

* Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister in 1979. She became 
  the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century (11 years, 209 days) 
  with only four other Prime Ministers in history serving longer terms.

* The first and only female Speaker elected by the House of Commons in 1992 
  was Betty Boothroyd. 

See Appendix B for a full list of women Members of the House of Commons since 1918

See Appendix C for list of women Member of the House of Commons who
have held Ministerial  Office since 1924


(2) "UK's first woman law lord appointed," by Clare Dyer. The
Guardian. October 24, 2003.,12913,1069853,00.html
Dame Brenda Hale will make legal history in 2004 when she becomes the
first woman judge to sit on the traditionally all-male British Supreme
Court. The appointment is an attempt by the British government to make
the twelve-member court more representative of the British citizenry.
Dame Hale, who has been called a "dangerous feminist" by some, has
actively campaigned for more female judges, arguing that there are
plenty of well-equipped women who could be appointed to embrace a
fairer representation of the British people.

"As Lord Falconer has observed, Britain has never had a woman in its
top court, the House of Lords. "What other country can you say that
about?" he asked."


"There are plenty of able lawyers around from whom to pick a judiciary
which would be more reflective of the general population - more women,
more religious and ethnic minorities, more varied social and
educational backgrounds, more varied professional backgrounds."

"This matters because democracy matters.........A more diverse
judiciary would "make a difference to how judging is done."


(3) "The Role of Women in Politics." Source:  Khilafah Magazine -
August 2003 Edition.

"The political landscape of Britain today, with respect to the role of
women, was shaped through vigorous campaigns that began with the
demand for women?s voting rights. In 1867 John Stuart Mill initiated
the first of many debates in Parliament to install rights that had
been denied to women from centuries before. The 1900s saw the
formation of the Women?s Social & Political Union and the Suffragette
movement, the latter of which became famous for its extreme measures,
such as engaging in hunger strikes and similar activities that often
led to imprisonment. In 1918, women over the age of thirty were given
the right to vote and by 1928 the voting age for women was reduced to
21 years, the same as for the men."


(4) "Fawcett Briefing: The Four C's."

According to the Fawcett Society, discriminination is the reason for
the shortage of women MP's in comparison to men. There is more
competition for fewer seats available for women, and sexual harassment
has been noted by

The other factors holding women back are what the Society notes as the "four c's:

* culture
* childcare
* cash
* confidence

Culture encompasses the way in which Parliment is run, including a
confrontational style and an effort on scoring points. A 1977 Fawcett
survey among women MP's confirmed this dislike of the male-dominated
attitude in Parliment.
Childcare, and overall family care (including the sick and elderly) is
primarily a woman's responsibility, adding another barrier to easy
participation in politics. Therefore, many women reject the idea of
running for a political seat before the initial campaigning begins.

Cash availability is significantly lower among women compared to men.
The cost of running, plus the attendent costs of childcare, travel and
accomodations serve as realistic barriers.

Confidence is a necessary part of campaigning and standing for office.
Many women lack the necessary qualities in this area. To encourage
more women to enter politics, confidence training is becoming a


(5) "Women Need Political Role Models," by Sandra Gidley. Liberal
Democrats (April 2, 2004)
Female constituents in the UK need role models, and female politicians
must to expand their political interest past a single campaing issue.
According to the Liberal Democrats, "Most women who get involved in
politics are particularly interested in single issue campaigns.
Political parties have to convert that interest into political
activism. It is essential to provide positive female role models, who
make women realise that getting involved into politics must not be
left to men in suits."


(6) "Women 'turned off by politics'," by Jackie Storer. BBC News.
April 27, 2004.
The Electoral Commision has found that while women are willing voters,
they are not as active in joining political parties as men. Their
participation in political matters heightens in seats with female MP's
or when a female candidate is before them. Postal ballots also
heighten activity. Therefore, the Electoral Commission is urging
political parties to put forward more female candidates and offer
postal ballots to increase the number of women voters. Unfortunately,
these efforts to attract more women into political activity is
proceeding slowly.

"The commission, which was set up to encourage more people to vote,
says women are put off by the male-dominated nature of Westminster
politics, creating an "activism gap". However, in constituencies where
a female MP was elected in 2001, turnout among women was 4% higher
than men. In those same seats, women were more likely to agree that
government benefits people like me - 49% compared to 38% in
constituencies with a male MP."


(7) "New study shows that women are less active in politics than men."
The Electoral Commission. 27 Apr 2004

"A new study published today by The Electoral Commission shows that,
overall, women are significantly less active than men in politics and,
in particular, are less likely to participate in formal politics such
as party membership, party donations and contacting politicians.

"Despite the persistence of an overall activism gap in the UK by
gender, the study shows that women are equally as likely as men to
participate in demonstrations or protest illegally, and more likely to
be active in cause-orientated politics such as signing petitions and
boycotting products."

"The research, carried out on behalf of The Electoral Commission by
academics at Birkbeck College, University of London and Harvard
University, also found that women now cast their vote as regularly or
more often than men; the gender gap in turnout that existed before
1979 has now closed and may have even reversed. New methods of voting
trialled in the recent electoral pilot schemes appear to be
reinforcing this trend; in all-postal voting areas in the 2003 local
elections, women's turnout was 13% higher than men's."

"The report, Gender and political participation, suggests a number of
reasons for the persistence of an activism gap by gender in relation
to formal politics, including practical barriers for women with young
children, barriers through lack of educational and economic resources
and the perceived male dominated nature of politics. In addition, the
research found that women continue to have a weaker sense of their own
ability to make a political difference than men and are less
interested in politics."

"Joan Jones CBE, Deputy Commissioner for The Electoral Commission
says, 'This study provides new insights into the subject of gender and
participation. It reveals that despite some progress, women remain
more switched off from taking part in politics through formal
processes than men, particularly at a national level. It confirms
previous research by showing that universal solutions will be
insufficient in addressing voter disengagement. Instead, what is
needed are specific responses that are sensitive to the particular
experiences and perceptions of different sections of the electorate."

Read "Key findings from Gender and Political Participation."  The
Electoral Commission. April 2004


(8) "Fawcett Briefing: The Need for Positive Action." The Fawcett Society.

Positive Measures:

The shortage of women candidates, along with the acknowledgement of
discrimination against those women who do run, is forcing Britian to
take a look at formal measures in the form of positive action.
According to the Fawcett Society, "experience from across Europe has
demonstrated that use of positive action is the key factor in
determining whether or not a country has highl levels of women's
representation." Some forms of positive action are All-Women
Shortlists, Twinning, Clustering and Zipping.

(See above reference for detailed explanations of each program if you
would like to include this information in your paper)


(9) "Campaigning for More Women in Public Life." Fawcett Society.

More Statistics from the Fawcett Society (Reference 6 in introduction)

* Only 18% of MPs are women. 
* Only 28% of local councillors are women. 
* As a result of using positive measures, the Welsh Assembly is now the only 
  parliament in the world with equal numbers of women and men. 
* There are only 2 Black and Minority Ethnic women who are MPs at Westminster, 
  and none in the Welsh Assembly or Scottish Parliament 

(Read more on website...



UK Women and Politics

From "Voting for women." The Guardian. April 28, 2004,12913,1205036,00.html 

Women "prefer causes to campaigns, action to meetings, and are more
likely to be drawn in to political activity in support of another
woman. Most tellingly, they are more satisfied with the effectiveness
of government if their MP is a woman. Women, it must be deduced, find
the way other women speak to them more persuasive; a triumph, perhaps,
for the women ministers who warn of the damaging impact of applying
the language of war to domestic politics."
Parties are moving too slowly in attracting women:

"Although many in politics have long been aware of these trends - it's
why women suddenly re-emerge on political platforms as elections
approach - the findings of the commission's comprehensive research is
vital evidence for campaigners in the final months before the next
election, where, so lamentable are the parties' failure to select
women candidates, the number of women in parliament is likely to fall,
as it did in 2001. Thus the cycle of alienation and disengagement is


From "Political gender gap deters women voters," by Sarah Hall. The
Guardian. April 28, 2004.,12913,1204891,00.html

"When it comes to politics, men, it appears, are a turn-off, a study
of gender and political participation revealed yesterday. Seventy-five
years after gaining the franchise, women are significantly more likely
to turn out and vote if they are represented by a woman than a man,
and are more likely to become involved in an electoral campaign on
behalf of a female candidate."

"They also feel a far greater connection with government, are more
likely to be interested in an election, and are more likely to discuss
politics. Yet, if they are represented by a male MP, they feel
"deactivated", found the research, conducted by the Electoral

"The report, Gender and Political Participation, destroys the myth
that women are less likely to turn out to national, regional or local
elections than men, pointing out that levels of turnout are
statistically comparable. And it points out that women are more likely
to be involved in cause-orientated activities, such as signing a
petition or boycotting products for ethical reasons."

"But when it comes to involvement in campaign-orientated activities,
such as contacting a politician, donating money to, or working for a
political party, women are significantly less likely to be involved,
according to the research, by academics at Harvard and Birkbeck
College, London."


From "MORI opinion poll - how do views in Britain compare with East
and Central Africa?" April 2002

The British Council commissioned MORI to do a poll in Britain on views
of the effectiveness of men and women politicians, to compare with the
Africa results. MORI interviewed a nationally representative sample of
1,002 people aged 16+ by telephone between 5 and 7 April 2002.

Points of similarity are that: 

* the majority believe that women politicians are equally effective
(56%) or more effective (32%) than men in improving the lives of
women. The reasons for this are broadly similar to those cited in
Africa - people believe women politicians are more in tune with
women's thinking and that they know what women want. People in England
and Wales are more positive than those in Scotland about the
effectiveness of female politicians in improving the lives of women.

* The main challenges faced by women politicians in improving the
lives of women in Britain are thought to be barriers posed by men,
such as the male dominance of politics, women not being taken
seriously and women?s low numbers in politics

* Pressure groups and charities are identified as doing most to
improve the lives of ordinary women in Britain (chosen by 29% and 22%
respectively from a list of groups). This echoes the endorsement of
NGOs and religious organisations as doing most to improve the lives of
ordinary women in East and Central Africa.

* Seven in ten of the British public say that there are too few women
MPs in the House of Commons, though their knowledge of how many women
MPs there are varies considerably


"Women and Men in Britain: Public and Political Life." Equal
Opportunities Commission. March 2002.

This paper contains additional statistics about women in public office
by country if you need them.


(11) "Gender and Constitutional Change - SHORT SUMMARY." End of Award Report

** This paper is a valuable resource if you want to follow up on the
initiatives and changes that women have brought about in the political
arena of Scotland, Wales and Ireland.


 The UK Government website has a thorough overview of governmental
bodies in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the nature of
decentralization if you need to familiarize yourself with the
structure for your paper.

Overview of UK Government


 Again, since your topic is extremely broad, you should not hesitate
to ask for further clarification if there are some very specific
topics for which you need references. I will be happy to help if I

 However, I do urge you to rearrange the information to your liking
and use your own words. This will help to make the paper "your own."



role of women in UK politics
emerging role of women in UK politics
UK AND women's political roles
women politicians in UK
woman AND politics +UK
women politicians in UK role of women in UK politics
number of women in UK political seats
UK government
history of the monarchy
woman prime ministers
female politicians in the UK
Subject: Re: roles of women in politics
From: z1faithful2friends-ga on 26 May 2004 06:55 PDT
This research is interesting, but do we have any that support why
there has never been a woman President in the United States of
American ... the land of the free and home of the brave?

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