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Breaking The Glass Ceiling – Can Devolution Deliver? Paula Keaveney Edge Hill University

Sponsored by Edge Hill University’s Institute for Social Responsibility

FAIRNESS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVISORY BOARD


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BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING – CAN DEVOLUTION DELIVER?

Foreword It is almost five years since the local leaders signed an historic devolution deal with government which would allow the Liverpool City Region to shape its own destiny for generations to come. Our six boroughs banded together and wrestled control over transport, skills, and economic affairs from Westminster and Whitehall and placed it into the hands of the 1.6 million people who call this area home. However, the now-infamous images from the day – eight white men smiling as they clutched the newly-signed legislation – simply did not reflect the modern, diverse city region in the background and pointed to a wider problem of diversity in leadership at all levels of government. Gender inequality remains a long-standing issue in politics. While women’s representation in politics has gone from strength-to-strength, too often leadership roles tend to resemble an “old boys’ club” more than the people they lead. Devolution represents a new way of doing politics, but for it to work there has to be a diversity of opinions and experiences around the decision-making table and this cannot be achieved without elevating women into leadership positions. This report, written by Paula Keaveney of Edge Hill University, explores the action necessary to achieve this and was commissioned by the Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram as part of his commitment to make local politics look more like the communities represented. It draws on the experiences of current and former female representatives across the Liverpool City Region, as well as women who aspire to hold public office; examines the barriers they have and continue to face; and attempts to design interventions to help overcome them. In addition, a bipartisan, cross-party stakeholder group was also established to act as a reference group to facilitate research and agree potential interventions. This has been invaluable in helping to shape suitable objectives to improve female participation and crucially progression into leadership roles, across our city region. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the participants who have contributed to this report we look forward to working together to finally shatter this glass ceiling.

Carla Thomas Councillor for St. Oswald ward in Sefton MBC and Liverpool City Region Deputy Portfolio Holder for Policy, Reform and Resources


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Contents 1.

Introduction

2.

Existing Barriers to Participation

3.

The National and International picture and its relevance to the local situation 3.1 The raw numbers 3.2 Political leadership and the leadership pipeline

4.

Electoral laws and candidate gender balance: International Examples

5.

What is being done at national level? Campaigns and initiatives 5.1 Campaign groups 5.2 Political parties 5.3 Parliaments and Parliamentary Organisations

6.

A helpful law? The Equality Act 2010

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The information gap

8.

What is being done for or at local level?

9.

The situation in other Combined Authorities

10.

The local picture 10.1 Gender balance of candidates 10.2 Meaningful candidacies

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Flag flying and local leadership figures

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Political leadership within authorities

13.

Local authorities, their policies and practices 13.1 Equality Plans 13.2 Parental leave for Councillors

14.

Getting involved, staying involved and getting promoted

15.

Political culture within Councils – elected members

16.

Political culture within parties and campaigning

17.

Time pressures and child-care

18.

What does a Councillor look like?

19.

What local women say – survey results

20.

Localised action to date – what works or might work

21.

Conclusion

22.

Recommendations 22.1 Recommendations to political parties 22.2 Recommendations to local councils within the LCR area 22.3 Recommendations to LCR area elected politicians at national level 22.4 Recommendations to the Combined Authority and Metro Mayor

23.

References and acknowledgements

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1. Introduction Devolution and the introduction of Combined Authorities have provided opportunities for new models of democracy and involvement. Novel structures, which vary in type across the UK, have meant new roles and new elections. While the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly recently celebrated 20 years of existence, the Combined Authorities are newer and have received less attention from the public and the press.1 With a number of Combined Authorities now in existence2, making decisions and spending money affecting millions of people, a focus on issues such as gender balance rightly falls on these bodies. In 2017, think-tank IPPR published Power to the People? Tackling the gender imbalance in Combined Authorities and Local Government arguing that there was much that could be done, and should be done, to ensure a better gender balance and more opportunities for women at the Combined Authority level.

I want to see the Councillor … here I am… not you love, the real Councillor”

The IPPR document provided an inspiration and a challenge to those in the Liverpool City Region Area3. This report is a partial response to that challenge. It examines women’s involvement in politics in the area and aims to begin a debate across the six boroughs and within the authority. The report examines both national and local factors and draws material from the views of women involved in politics at all levels. Its findings are based on local and national statistics, on local government documents, on a survey of women and on a series of individual interviews. The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) was established in 2014 following a governance review and proposal to Government in 2013. Combined Authorities were possible because of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act (2009). A Statutory Instrument in 2016 established that there would be an Elected Mayor. The first election for the Mayoral position was in 2017. The authority is led by the Elected Mayor and made up of one representative appointed by each of the six constituent boroughs as well as a non-voting member appointed by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). In practice, each Council sends along its leader, or elected mayor and the LEP appoints its Chair as representative.4 Each of these members has a specific portfolio area. Decisions are taken by this group, but discussions are wider and include deputies, advisers, associate members and co-opted members.

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The exception is the Greater London Authority and Assembly, which is not strictly speaking a Combined Authority. 2

The current figure for established Combined Authorities is ten 3

Liverpool City Region is the agreed name for the Combined Authority. The name appears as a somewhat longer version in the relevant legislation 4

Councils can also appoint alternates, who act as voting members when the appointed member is not able to attend


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The Constitution of the LCR establishes the make-up of the Authority’s decisionmaking bodies but does not rule on who should be appointed to represent each constituent Council. When the body was being envisaged, Government understanding was that the relevant leaders would be key. The devolution deal with Government was signed by the then leaders and the document says that “All Leaders within the Combined Authority will have a clear portfolio of responsibilities…” It is important to note however that there is nothing in the LCR constitution, nor in the relevant legislation, that prohibits Councils appointing other members. Appointments to the authority are generally made at Annual General Meetings. Liverpool City Council for example appointed the Elected Mayor as its representative at its AGM in May 2019. It is of course to be expected that constituent authorities would want to nominate their leaders to this body. But the combination of leaders plus the Mayor of the Combined Region has to date produced a decision-making body which is entirely male. This in turn has raised questions about gender balance and gender equality and led to efforts to involve more women, for example, as non-voting deputies.5 It has informed the setting up of an Advisory Board, the Fairness and Social Justice Advisory Board (FASJAB) which was established in 2017. The board is the first of its kind in the country and brings together people from a cross section of local communities, reflecting the diversity of the city region. It acts as an independent sounding board, ensuring that issues of fairness and social justice are “at the heart of the combined authority’s programme”. (communication from Combined Authority) These developments have contributed to the desire to think more widely about women in politics, particularly in political leadership, across the area. Not all problems will affect every party and local Council. And not all problems are easily solvable. This research however points a way towards removing many of the barriers, perceived or real, in politics and public life in the Liverpool City Region area The report first sets out the context by looking at the national and international situations, and at initiatives taking place to encourage female would-be politicians. Some of the key legislation is identified. Problems with implementation are highlighted. The report then focuses on specific information about the Liverpool City Region area. Problems are identified, solutions suggested and good practice highlighted. The report finishes with recommendations to elected politicians, to political parties, to individual local Councils and to the Mayor and LCRCA.

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Eight deputy portfolio holders, all women, were appointed in 2018.

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2. Existing barriers to participation

The chance to meet people who are political is quite hard… but they’ve got to be welcoming rather than…well this is ours, we’ve been doing this for 40 years”

Participation can be considered in a broad sense. Women may be involved in formal politics. They may however be involved in public life, which could include board membership, acting as a school governor and so on. Public life involvement is relevant as it has the potential to increase the number of female leaders across the LCR area. It can also often act as an entry point for involvement in more formal politics. The factors preventing or hindering women from getting involved in, or reaching their full potential in, public life and politics are many and can be complex. The research has shown that at entry level these include • • • • • •

Lack of information Lack of networks Methods of selection Perceptions of political roles Culture and atmosphere of political and campaign environments Perceived or actual issues of time and timings

And at the more advanced/leadership level include: • • •

Lack of policies or practices to assist with retention Timing and other organisational factors working against progression Perception issues about leadership

It is also clear that entry into elected politics can be quite a complicated process. Many interviewees commented about not initially knowing how to go about this. There was a sense of happy accident in some cases. And despite political parties being the main gate-keepers to participation, there is no single route into local elected politics. It is striking how often individuals begin as someone involved in her community or active in a campaign group or other organisation. This in turn means there is no single specific prep-school for elected politics and individuals will “prepare” and become aware of opportunities in different ways. Much has been written, and there have been many initiatives, focusing on the gender gap in politics and public life. Yet gaps still exist. These occur at every level and tend to widen with seniority. And there are gaps in perception and understanding. As long ago as 1990, Brooks, Eagle and Short (Fabian Society Tract) wrote that there were two approaches which could be taken to solve the problem of lack of female participation at all levels. These were exhortation and structural change. The authors had a particular view of the structural change they envisaged, but it is instructive to review what they said. “Exhortation consists of passing resolutions, supporting equality and encouraging women to come forward, of offering special training, education and advice. The s tructural approach consists of instituting a system of quotas throughout the [Labour] party backed up by rule changes which ensure their enforcement...”

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Eight deputy portfolio holders, all women, were appointed in 2018.


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“The history of the [Labour] Party’s attempts to empower women within its own structures consists, to date, almost entirely of the exhortation strategy. This strategy has failed”. This research explores the strategies which parties, politicians and organisational bodies have taken and are taking and asks what works and what could work. The research has identified some of the ways in which women in the LCR area have become involved in elected politics, or in trying to get elected. Participation in other aspects of public life has at times formed part of a pipe-line. This means political parties may need to think in broader terms about who may be a future Councillor. Women who took part in a local survey for this research supported the idea that there needs to be more talent spotting of potential councillors, whether those individuals are party members or not.

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3. The National and international picture and its relevance to the local situation. 3.1 The raw numbers: According to the United Nations, the minimum proportion of female representatives necessary for a legislature to be representative of women is 30 per cent. “Thirty percent is considered to be the critical mass of women in a decision-making institution if their presence is both to make a difference to its outputs, practices and culture and ensure that the representation of women is normalised and will continue” (Russell, Lovenduski and Stephenson. 2002) After the 2019 General Election the percentage of female MPs in the House of Commons was 34 per cent (House of Commons library briefing). There was an increase in female representation of 12, with more than 40 per cent of the first time MPs being women. In Government at the time of writing (Feb 2020) there are six women among the 22 full Cabinet members. Political decision making clearly goes on in places other than Westminster. The Fawcett Society’s Sex and Power 2020 report points out that women make up 36 per cent of the Members of the Scottish Parliament and 47 per cent of the Welsh Senedd. In fact the National Assembly of Wales achieved a 50:50 split in 2003, which the Fawcett Society ascribes to the use of Proportional Representation in elections and “positive action by the Labour Party “ (Kaur 2020) More locally, some organisations in the LCR area have reached and surpassed the 30 per cent line. Liverpool City Council for example has a Cabinet in which women make up more than half the members. 3.2 Political leadership and the leadership pipeline: At national level, female MPs are increasingly seen as leaders. There have been two women leaders of the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats were recently led by a woman, two women have been acting leaders of the Labour Party and Plaid Cymru, the Green Party of England and Wales, the DUP, Sinn Fein, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and the SNP either have, or have had, female leaders. At the time of writing, the Labour Party is holding elections for both a Leader and Deputy Leader. Of those candidates crossing the nomination hurdles, women outnumber men in both contests. Yet concerns remain about all stages of the political journey. Women are still less likely to become political candidates. While the 2019 General Election saw an increase in the proportion of candidates who were female, they still made up just over one-third (House of Commons library briefing paper) Debate still rages about some of the measures used to try to address gender inequality, such as All Women Shortlists. And critics point to the fact that whatever the result of the 2020 Labour contest, the party has not to this point managed to elect a female leader.


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At local level the current leaders of all six relevant Councils are male. St Helens has had a female leader in the past6 but this role has been heavily male dominated. Political party groups are a little more likely than Councils to be led by women7, but again these have tended to be in the minority. A 2017 report from the Fawcett Society and the Local Government Information Unit found that one in five council leaders were female, and that women made up 30 per cent of cabinet members, where Councils operated the Cabinet governance model. There is some evidence that women in political leadership positions tend to remain for shorter periods of time. O’Neill, Pruysers and Stewart refer to this as the “glass cliff” phenomenon. They argue that in parties likely to form a government, in which in other words the stakes are highest, “ women’s tenures as party leaders are significantly shorter than men’s and they are significantly more likely to be forced to resign from the position” (O’Neill, Pruysers and Stewart. 2019). The glass cliff research is based on analysis of party leader terms of office and exits in Canada so it is important to consider how relevant this might be to the UK and the Liverpool City Region. The phenomenon can be considered relevant because shorter tenures have been observed in other western Parliamentary systems and in devolved bodies in the UK. Furthermore, shorter tenures, both as Councillors and as individuals in leadership roles, was identified as an issue by interviewees who took part in this research. Nationally, the percentage of women who were councillors in England stood at 34 per cent of the whole total after the 2018 local elections (Fawcett Society). This percentage increased to 35 per cent in 2019. An analysis of candidates in the 2019 local elections by the Fawcett Society and Democracy Club showed that 34 per cent of the candidates in that year’s local elections were women..

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Councillor Marie Rimmer was Leader of the Council prior to becoming an MP 7

The current leader of the Lib Dem group on St Helens Council is Councillor Teresa Sims for example. The author of this report led the Liverpool City Council Lib Dems for a year.

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4. Electoral laws and candidate gender balance: International Examples. In the UK there is no law specifying gender balance in elections. Political parties are free to have as many, or as few, female candidates as they like. In fact it is hard to see how, particularly in those elections run on a first-past-the-post localised basis, any national rule could be made to stick. This is not the case elsewhere however where the form of election makes numerical quotas easier. A wide range of countries, of which these are just examples, have taken legislative steps to increase the number of female candidates. And while enforcement varies, the regulations do encourage more awareness. In the Republic of Ireland the Election (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 means that parties not achieving a quota of at least 30 percent of female candidates in national elections lose some of their state funding. The figure was due to reach 40 per cent by 2020. The quotas do not apply to local government level elections, although groups have been campaigning for the law to apply here too. The Irish Government has gone some way to recognising the need at local level, with the announcement in 2018 of a scheme to give extra funding to political parties if a 30 per cent target for candidates was met for the 2019 local elections. In Spain the law states that for the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house) each bloc of five candidates on each party’s list should have at least two women and at least two men (OSCE 2019). The Organisation for Security and Co-operation for Europe, in its report on the early Spanish Parliamentary election of 2019, says that parties seemed to be following this law and that the election led to the ”highest number of women in the national legislature in the democratic history of Spain”. (OSCE 2019) More information about international initiatives is in the fuller version of this report at edgehill.ac.uk/isr/publications.


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5. What is being done at national level? The campaigns and the initiatives. 5.1 Campaign Groups: 50:50 Parliament, an organisation founded in 2013, has developed the Ask Her to Stand Initiative. This cross-party group encourages suggestions of women who could perhaps stand for Parliament. If the nominees are interested, links are made with party representatives. This enables individuals to “talent spot” either inside or outside political parties. The Parliament Project aims to “inspire, empower and encourage women to run for political office in the UK. It operates in Scotland and England, running workshops and on-line peer support networks. The project says “We are creating a groundswell of women entering political parties to ultimately achieve 51% female representation in all spheres of politics.” (Parliament Project website. 2019) Most recently the Equal Power Campaign was launched. A group of organisations, including the Fawcett Society and 50:50 Parliament have come together to offer tailored training for women thinking about becoming either Parliamentary or local government candidates. The first training sessions are set to run in 2020. 5.2 Political Parties: 2005 saw the setting up of the Conservative Party’s Women 2 Win Campaign, which was co-founded by Rt Hon Theresa May. This group’s main focus is on Parliament but it also helps women interested in local government and other roles. Much stress is put on supporting and encouraging women in selection contests. Baroness Ann Jenkin talks of work after 2010 on identifying “the stars who we thought were likely to make it in 2015” (Jenkin in Berthenzene and Gottlieb 2018) The Labour Party uses All Women Shortlists for some of its selections. Introduced in the long run up to the 1997 General Election, the scheme was designed to ensure that women were selected in a proportion of “winnable seats”. A legal challenge led to a temporary halt in 1996, but Labour in Government legislated, in 2002, to make AWS selections legal (The Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act). The opportunity remains legal today and the party continues to identify seats, both at Parliamentary and local level, as AWS. All Women Shortlists have been a controversial topic within the Liberal Democrats but a conference motion was agreed in 2016 to create All Women Shortlists in seats in which an existing MP was standing down (all MPs were male at that point) and to also create a limited number of AWS seats in winnable areas. The party has previously used a “zipping system” for European Parliamentary Candidate selection. This involves making sure that male and female candidates alternate, or swap at intervals, on a list in a closed-list system. The Liberal Democrats set up the Gender Balance Task Force (now Campaign for Gender Balance) with the task of getting more women elected to Parliament.

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A Green Party of England and Wales Conference in 2012 adopted a motion as follows: “'The elections and equality and diversity coordinators on the Green Party Executive will be tasked with working with local and regional parties to promote the training and conditions within the Green Party to enable it to work towards the proportion of female candidates reaching at least 50% in candidate lists in PR elections such as European elections and at least 50% of General Election candidates. Taking into account the need to put forward effective candidates, they will work with local/ regional parties to try to ensure that female candidates will comprise at least 50% of those selected to stand for winnable seats. A report on the gender balance of candidates and elected members will be included in the GPEx report to conference after each relevant election.” The following year the party amended its bye laws to add this clause: “if, following the first close of nominations, there is not at least one female nominee, there must be a second call for nominations.” While these provisions apply to Parliamentary elections, this report identifies that some local Green parties are taking this approach for local selections too. 5.3 Parliaments and Parliamentary Organisations The Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted a Plan of Action for Gender Sensitive Parliaments in 2012. The document makes the point that there are actions that can be taken by Parliaments regardless of the current percentage of female members. While the focus is on National Parliaments, much of the IPU material is relevant to local authorities and other local political organisations. Recommendations from the IPU are supported in a 2018 UK report published by the British Council. Using the 100th anniversary of (some) women being legally allowed to vote in a national election in the UK, the British Council carried out a wide range of interviews with politicians and others. The report, Women, Power and Politics: What’s Changed in 100 Years? looked at what was needed to see a “step change” in women’s participation at all levels of politics by 2028. The authors quote Professor Sarah Childs calling for “a shopping bag of reforms”. Perhaps key among the recommendations are points about the “rules” of politics. Here, Women, Power and Politics calls for “transparent and comprehensive mechanisms for the collation, analysis and publication of data on women in politics from candidacy through to election and into senior roles…” And “party regulation and temporary special measures, including legislated quotes and other legislative routes, to achieve equal numbers of women candidates in winnable seats…” The Inter-Parliamentary Union believes that problems in representative balance can’t be properly solved without data. Stakeholders need to understand what the problem is. The clarity of numbers can often spur parts of the system into action.


EDGE HILL UNIVERSITY : DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY

6. A helpful law? The Equality Act 2010 A legislative step forward in obtaining data was taken in 2010 when the Equality Act included a focus on political parties and a duty to collect information on selection and election. This part, Section 106, has not yet been implemented. If it were being operated, political parties would have to collect and publish data about numbers of individuals with protected characteristics (including gender information) involved at various stages of the selection and election process. This would mean better information about the involvement of women. It would also mean parties being more likely to reflect on their own progress and on areas for improvement. While collecting and publishing data on its own cannot change the situation, it can act as a powerful motivating tool. Organisations such as the Fawcett Society are calling for this Section to be implemented. There are also calls for its range to be extended as it currently does not specifically cover local government. Calls to implement Section 106 have also come from political parties. A motion to the Liberal Democrat Conference in 2019, and a section in the Labour Manifesto in 2019 both highlighted a demand for implementation. More information on Section 106 can be found in the fuller version of this report at edgehill.ac.uk/isr/publications

In my experience there is a bias towards helping younger men to progress as opposed to young women”

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7. The information gap Participation in public life can be a pipeline into more political involvement, or can be a rewarding contribution in itself. Individuals can’t apply for roles in public life however if they are not aware of them. Some bodies, including the Conservative Home website, have started to publish lists of vacancies to make readers more aware. Conservative Home is clearly keen to encourage Conservatives to apply, but making more of any group aware of opportunities can only help. In the LCR area, there are umbrella organisations which will advertise board member vacancies if asked to. These include Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services (LCVS). Local Councils will also often maintain a list of people interested in becoming school governors. There is however no single portal or single point which brings all potential opportunities together. Those with a lack of contacts, or lack of initial knowledge may flounder. Given the natural tendency for organisations to recruit or seek applications through existing networks, this risks excluding women who have not been part of those networks.

It’s a massive learning curve… I felt totally out of my depth to begin with so it’s been hard”

At party political level it can also be surprisingly difficult to know how to get involved. This is a nation-wide problem so it is no surprise that interviewees and survey respondents highlighted this. As one said: “I never met the right people and you look at getting into whichever party you want to get into and it’s daunting… all the people. At (age) 20 I am not going to go to the Labour group because I am going to be petrified. You think it’s like closed off… you have to know somebody to get in in the first place… they go on about CLPs... if you don’t know what they’re talking about you go “what”?...”


EDGE HILL UNIVERSITY : DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY

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8. What is being done for or at local level? Thoughts from outside and inside the LCR area.

the chance to meet people who are political is quite hard… but they’ve got to be welcoming rather than.. well this is ours, we’ve been doing this for 40 years”

In 2019, the Local Government Association published Twenty-First Century Councils. Its purpose is “to help councils create the underlying policies, procedures, ethos and environment that encourages and empowers women, parents and carers to become local councillors and take on leadership positions” (LGA. 2019:5). It is worth reflecting on this aim as local research has demonstrated that aspects of ethos and environment can be just as significant as procedures and policies. While it may be easier to change arrangements, such as meeting timings and child-care policies, problems of culture, environment and attitude often run deeper and are harder to uproot. Many of the women interviewed for this research highlighted child-care and family responsibilities as limiting factors. This can prevent individuals even attempting to become involved, and can lead to some leaving politics altogether. In the world of work, parental leave is usually a given. But for elected councillors, a role not classified as employment, there may be little such support. The Labour Group on the Local Government Association (LGA) is encouraging Councils to adopt policies on parental leave. The Group has set up a Women’s Taskforce which has produced a model policy and model motions for Council and Group Meetings. As at February 2020 27 councils, including one from the LCR area, had adopted the policy. (personal communication from LGA staff member) The LGA Labour Group also publishes “best practice” guidance focusing on measures to encourage more women to stand in elections or get involved. (LGA website) These are drawn from the practices and ideas of groups around the country. In recognition of the fact that the campaign environment can be seen as “quite male dominated and intimidating”, local parties including Lambeth, Croydon and Islington have used women only canvassing sessions during elections and by elections. This research has found no evidence of this approach being used in the LCR area and some women interviewed showed surprise at the suggestion. Some local authorities use the publication of national reports to examine their own operations in terms of female involvement. In March 2019, for example, Lancashire County Council published a response to the 2017 report by the Fawcett Society and the Local Government Information Unit – Does Local Government Work For Women? The County Council set up a task and finish group, which fed into the authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The group examined recommendations from the Fawcett Society document and focused on how and whether these recommendations could be adopted and pursued by the authority. The issue of time pressure and time commitment is frequently raised as a barrier. In Wales, the National Assembly held an Inquiry into diversity in local government which reported in Spring 2019. Among its recommendations was the suggestion that job sharing be explored further, both for Councillors in Cabinet type roles and for Non-Executive Councillors. A job share has already been undertaken on Swansea Council where two women were appointed to share the Cabinet portfolio of “future generations”. The National Assembly report calls on the Welsh Government to legislate to make job sharing more possible when it produces/ progresses its Local Government Bill.


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Other initiatives are designed to remove barriers in selection processes. Local authority wards are often represented by more than one Councillor. In Liverpool for example, there are three Councillors per ward, usually elected in different years. Labour’s policy is that there should be no wards represented only by men. Clearly there will be wards in which the Councillors are from other parties. But in the case of an all Labour team, decisions about selection criteria are made based partly on the gender make-up. If a male Councillor in a threeman ward decides to stand down, the candidate selected will be drawn from an All Women Shortlist. AWS is used in other wards too to reach, and maintain, the goal of 50:50 representation. The Green Party has in some cases chosen to re-open a selection process for local council candidates if no women have applied. A rule for Parliament was introduced nationally in 2013 (see previous mention). Applying this locally cannot guarantee that a woman will come forward. But it can act as a check on simply proceeding to selection without an attempt at gender balance. Some potential Elected-Members can be put off by the feeling that Councillors are “not like them”. In the words of Marie Wilson, who set up the White House Project in the USA “you can’t be what you can’t see”. This can mean that efforts to change perceptions, such as the perception that a Councillor is usually a man, are part of the mix of efforts made by campaign groups and parties. The Liberal Democrat Group on the Local Government Association published a special edition of the Be a Councillor publication focusing on women in local politics and linked to the centenary of (some) women getting the vote at Parliamentary level.


EDGE HILL UNIVERSITY : DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY

9. The situation in other Combined Authorities While each Combined Authority area will be different, it is useful to examine gender balance in some of the others which exist and to explore whether any particular initiatives have been or are being taken. West Midlands Combined Authority There are Seven Constituent Councils, each of which appoints two members. Total full-voting members

Male

Female

15 (including Mayor)

12

3

Greater Manchester Combined Authority There are Ten Constituent Councils, each of which appoints one member. Total full-voting members

Male

Female

11 (including Mayor)

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2

The Mayor has also appointed Beverley Hughes as deputy mayor for policing, crime, criminal justice and the fire service.

In March 2019, the Authority set up a task and finish group to look at “turbocharging gender equality in Greater Manchester.” Initial proposed areas for consideration did not include women in elected politics per se, but did include “women and girl’s voices in policy development”. A Women’s Voice Group was set up to “check and challenge policymaking in Greater Manchester (GMCA website) In a statement released for International Women’s Day 2018, the Authority said that “full GMCA meetings have a balanced representation of both men and women...” It has adopted the policy of assistant portfolio holders. These are not substitute voting representatives. They do however take on a role in aspects of the work around the portfolio. The GMCA Constitution has been amended to ensure that those appointed are of a different gender to the person appointing them. This is seen to ensure gender balance (although of course it does not do so in terms of voting strength). The Constitution reads “The person appointed as Assistant Portfolio Holder will be of a different gender from the GMCA member who appoints the Assistant Portfolio Holder.” And “Assistant Portfolio Holder will have a standing invitation to attend meetings of the GMCA,including parts of the meeting where exempt matters are being discussed, and will be entitled to speak (but not vote).” (GMCA Constitution 2019) Outside the Combined Authority, Greater Manchester for Women collects gender equality data and campaigns with the aim of equality across every area studied by 2028. The organisation has a scorecard which it updates annually and which includes the proportion of voting women on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority as one of its measures. Extra information on comparative figures is available in the fuller version of this report at edgehill.ac.uk/isr/publications.

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10. The Local Picture 10.1 Gender balance of candidates While information about applicants for candidacies is usually kept private, the lists of actual candidates in local elections provides good information about gender balance. Candidates lists for elections at City or Municipal Borough Level were reviewed for elections from 2016. By-elections, to fill vacancies between the May contests, were omitted as it would be impossible for a party to achieve gender balance in a one off, one candidate contest. All the area’s Councils normally elect in thirds. That means that one seat in each three- member ward is filled at each election with one year being “fallow”. (Where there are smaller wards, some years are missed) The boundary changes, and reduction in overall number of Councillors in Knowsley however, meant that the 2016 election filled all the seats, with the Council reverting to thirds in 2018. The local election in Halton in 2020 will similarly see boundary changes and an election to fill all the seats. Figures for the most recent election are included here. Statistics covering elections in 2016 and 2018 for each borough can be found in the longer version of this report which is available at edgehill.ac.uk/isr/publications. Halton 2019 Local Election Party

Male Candidates

Female Candidates

Labour

10

8

Conservative

13

5

Liberal Democrat

3

6

Other

6

3

Party

Male Candidates

Female Candidates

Labour

11

4

Conservative

13

2

Liberal Democrat

2

0

Green

7

1

Other

2

1

Knowsley 2019 Local Election


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Liverpool 2019 Local Election Party

Male Candidates

Female Candidates

Labour

14

16

Conservative

20

10

Liberal Democrat

22

8

Green

13

17

Other

23

10

Party

Male Candidates

Female Candidates

Labour

7

9

Conservative

9

7

Liberal Democrat

5

1

Green

9

5

Other

3

2

Party

Male Candidates

Female Candidates

Labour

14

9

Conservative

16

7

Liberal Democrat

16

7

Green

12

6

Other

14

7

Party

Male Candidates

Female Candidates

Labour

16

6

Conservative

13

9

Liberal Democrat

13

3

Green

8

13

Other

6

3

St Helens 2019 Local Election

Sefton 2019 Local Election

Wirral 2019 Local Election

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“… and the chair… told me to shut up and sit down… and that’s because I am a feisty woman.. and I was so angry and furious about the way I’d been spoken to. And the kids said to me… so what are you going to do mum, you can’t just moan. And it was then I decided I would stand”

10.2 Meaningful candidacies The electoral system used in English local elections means that some Council wards will be “safe” for one party or another. Some will be marginal (in other words more than one party stands a strong chance). Some will be unwinnable for many parties (in other words, candidates know they do not have a realistic chance of winning). Parties make assessments about contests and act accordingly. For example candidates for seats requiring an intense campaign to win are likely to be selected early. Resources are more likely to be put into these seats. Potential candidates also make assessments. For the ambitious, being a candidate in a seat you are likely to win is clearly better than facing an inevitable loss. This means that competition for candidacies is not even, with more competition for seats which could be won. Given the realities of the electoral context, it is clearly important to examine not just how many candidates are women but how many female candidates are in seats classed as winnable. There is always some political judgement here, but this report has established criteria based on political experience and then applied these to the candidates list. The report has ignored those contests in which an incumbent is defending his or her seat. While these do include women, and do include women in safe seats, they tell us little about parties’ tendencies to select women from scratch. From the point of view of political parties, wards can be defences (the party holds that seat and wants to keep it) or attacks (the party wants to win it). It is possible for a defence ward to feature a new candidate. Using a number of criteria for wards, this report categorises wards for winnability. The criteria for winnability were chosen as follows. Highly winnable. Category 1 These are defence seats with a new candidate and for which previous election results showed a party advantage of at least a fifty per cent share of the vote. They are also attack seats for which the run of results in the two previous years have shown a challenger party is in fact ahead, reaching over 50 per cent and so is more properly regarded as defending an advantage. In other words, the party involved would, all things being equal, be expected to win. Winnable. Category 2 These are defence seats with a new candidate and for which previous election results showed a close contest with a clear challenger party and a margin in vote share of ten per cent or less. In other words the party involved stands a reasonable chance of holding the seat although stiff competition is expected.


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They are also attack seats in which a challenger party is in a clear second place and which is behind by a vote share of ten per cent or less. In other words the party stands a reasonable chance of taking the seat and an active campaign is expected. Because selection decisions cannot really factor in the sudden emergence of particular local issues or the sudden expansion of the field, this cannot be taken into account here. And while politicians often refer to personal votes, the evidence for this as a phenomenon is not universally strong. This factor has therefore not been considered either. This analysis therefore is based simply on statistics. Category 1 seats across the six boroughs. Number of possible selections of female candidates and number of actual candidacies. Party

Number Possible

Selected

Labour

18

11

Conservative

4

3

Liberal Democrat

3

2

Green

1

0

Other

1

0

Party

Number Possible

Selected

Labour

5

2

Conservative

1

0

Liberal Democrat

6

3

Green

3

2

Other

0

0

Category 2 seats across the six boroughs

Information at borough level detailing wards categorised can be found in the supporting notes to the report at edgehill.ac.uk/isr/publications.

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11. Flag flying and local leadership figures. Few local Councillors are particularly high profile. But there are some contests in which the profile of the candidates is higher, and so the chance to make perception points about gender is greater. These contests are generally those to fill important local roles, all of which have come into being since 2010. In the Liverpool City Region Area these are the contests for Elected Mayor of Liverpool, Police and Crime Commissioner, and Metro Mayor. (Two PCCs in fact cover the LCR area, with all authorities bar Halton covered by Merseyside and Halton covered by Cheshire) The first contest for Elected Mayor of Liverpool was in 2012. This was fought by candidates from a range of parties and by one independent. There were 12 Candidates, all male. In 2016, the field shrank to seven, but yet again there were no female candidates. The next contest is due in May 2020. The first election for Police and Crime Commissioners took place in 2012. On Merseyside there were six candidates, of which three were men and three women. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Ukip all selected female candidates. In 2016, four parties, and no independents, contested the position. Three of the candidates were male and one, the defending Labour incumbent, female. In Cheshire in 2012 there were five candidates, four male and one female. In 2016 there were four candidates, all male. The next PCC elections are due in 2020. The position of Metro Mayor is the newest role in this report and has been contested only once so far, in 2017. The next election is in 2020. On the ballot paper in 2017 were eight candidates, of which six were male.


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12. Political leadership within authorities For the purposes of this report, political leadership is defined as being in a leadership role as an elected member on a local authority. Leadership roles are then defined as membership of a Cabinet or Executive Board as a Portfolio holder or as being Chair of a Council Committee or Performance Board. There can be a difference in how these roles are filled. Cabinet or Executive Board members tend to be appointed by a Leader or Elected Mayor. Committee Chairs are generally elected, by a political group or by full council. This report looks at Committees or Performance Boards which cover policy and performance areas. It excludes regulatory committees (such as planning and licensing) and any standards committees. It also excludes joint committees such as those scrutinising the health service. Figures are based on decisions made at, or reported to, each Council’s AGM in May 2019, or on post filling made as a result of the AGM. They do not take into account any more recent personnel changes. Halton Borough Council

Full Council

Executive Board

Performance Board Chairs

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

35

21

10

9

1

6

5

1

Knowsley Borough Council

Full Council Male

Female

Cabinet Total possible

26 19 6 Liverpool City Council

Full Council

Scrutiny Committee Chairs

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

3

3

4

2

2

Cabinet

Scrutiny Committee Chairs

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

44

46

10

5

5

8

5

3

Liverpool’s Cabinet gender balance has changed to 70 per cent female since the AGM

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St Helens MBC Full Council

Cabinet

Scrutiny Committee Chairs

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

27

21

10

5

5

6

3

3

Sefton MBC Full Council

Cabinet

Scrutiny Committee Chairs

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

37

29

9

6

3

4

1

3

Wirral MBC Full Council

Cabinet

Scrutiny Committee Chairs

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

Total possible

Male

Female

40

26

10

4

6

4

2

2


EDGE HILL UNIVERSITY : DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY

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13. Local authorities, their policies and practices 13.1 Equality plans As public bodies, local authorities have a duty to produce equality objectives and to report on progress. These duties were established in the Equality Act (2010) and the Public Equality Duty (2011). The objectives have to be published at least every four years and every authority had to have produced the first document by April 2012. This means that Councils in the LCR area will be reviewing and republishing material relevant to this study over the next few years. In addition to producing the four yearly objectives, Councils produce more regular reports on progress. The 2018 Liverpool report, along with reports by other authorities in the area, specifically mentions public life when talking about how the Council should carry out its work in the equality field. This is a standard form of words which, with some editing, carries similar meanings across documents. “Having ‘due regard’ to the need to advance equality of opportunity involves: • • •

Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people. Taking steps to meet the needs of people that are different from others. Encouraging people to participate in public life or activity in which participation is low”

The existence of the obligation to draw up objectives and to regularly review and report provides an opportunity for those concerned about equality issues. These issues include those which impact on women’s willingness to attempt an electoral role and ability to carry out that role. There is then a potential opportunity to argue that such should be included in the work by any local public body, including the Combined Authority and the various local councils. 13.2 Parental leave for Councillors There are mixed feelings about whether parental leave for Councillors would work. Some argue that the role of Councillor isn’t employment as such and so should be able to be combined with other responsibilities. It is also the case that much of an elected member’s role can be done from home at different times of the day, and that the base-line requirement to attend one meeting in six months, as laid down in the Local Government Act 1972, already creates a situation in which members can be flexible to meet family commitments. However others argue that there should be more recognition of the particular needs of new parents and that the lack of provision in this area works as a disincentive (mainly) for women. Here it is instructive to note that although there is no parental leave per se for Members of Parliament, measures such as proxy voting have been introduced to enable MPs to fulfil their roles. The research has found a mixed picture. Knowsley Council’s Annual meeting approved a voluntary parental leave scheme when it met in May 2019: “a voluntary policy for Parental Leave be introduced into the Scheme of Members’ Allowances during 2019/20 and reviewed on an annual basis, and authority be delegated to the Executive Director (Resources) in consultation with the Resources Cabinet Member to determine the content of such a policy “ The policy now appears in an appendix to the Council’s constitution. In St Helens it is reported that the subject has not been discussed. (personal communication) In Wirral, the independent panel which reviews Councillors allowances has asked elected members for views, although it is not clear whether there is demand or interest. (personal communication).


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BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING – CAN DEVOLUTION DELIVER?

14. Getting involved, staying involved and getting promoted “I don't think the problem is necessarily getting women into political representation, but keeping them and supporting them when elected.” (survey respondent) There is a general perception that women elected to local councils are less likely to have lengthy terms of office than men. This emerged from interviews and the research survey. Terms of office in three of the local authorities in the LCR were studied to explore whether this perception is grounded in fact. Information on terms of office should be published on Council websites along with other information about each elected member. In fact there are gaps and some errors and inconsistency in the information. Where possible the author has corrected the information based on personal knowledge and further research, but this has not been possible in every case. The errors and gaps relate to a small proportion of elected members, so while the figures cannot be 100 per cent correct, there is enough material there to get a general picture. In Halton, the average term of office for a male councillor is 19 years and for a female 12. In Liverpool, the average term of office for a male councillor is 9 years while that for a female is 7. In St Helens, the average term for a male councillor is 10 and for a female 9. Fuller data on term-lengths will be available in the supporting notes for this report at edgehill.ac.uk/isr/publications. While statistics demonstrate a gender gap, it is important to look at the reasons for this and the implications for women in politics. Shorter terms of office could be a factor of seat selection. A councillor in a marginal seat is always more likely to have a shorter term of office than one in a safe seat. There could also be internal party competition around candidate selection, although for this to be key we would need to assume that women incumbents were more generally losing party selection battles against men. However if women are generally staying for shorter periods, the possibilities to develop into leadership roles are fewer. It will therefore be important to identify whether there are factors, outside the obvious political and electoral ones, which are affecting retention rates. These might be factors around child-care and family or around outside employment. They may also be around the general culture of the political arena.


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There is a difference between giving up because of election defeat, and giving up by choice, although those defeated in an election can choose to stand again or can choose to walk away.

“loud, shouty white men with outdated views and misogynistic attitudes are the biggest barrier. I have worked in many different professions and never come across such outdated views and poor behaviour”

It is normal in many large employers to have “exit interviews” when staff leave. This is seen as good practice in that lessons can be learned for future retention and staff relations. Elected members are not staff. But exit interviews with those who decide to leave, or feel compelled to leave, would be valuable in assisting political groups and local councils examine their practice. There may also be a value in finding out whether there are barriers which would deter those who have lost elections from trying again. As the Expert Group on Diversity in Local Government in Wales argued (2014) “There is worrying research suggesting that women are more likely than men to drop out of politics permanently if they lose their seats or decide not to stand again. This could suggest that they are put off by a male dominated organisation, with its associated adversarial style of debate. Again, exit interviews conducted by local authorities might help to clarify this.” There is little evidence of exit interviews for elected members being carried out in local government in any systematic, general way. The author found only one example of practice (Leeds City Council) and two examples of suggestions (York City Council and Audit Scotland) There is however some evidence of exit interviews taking place within political parties and carried out by party officials (as opposed to formally through a local council’s democratic services department) in Halton and in Liverpool.

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15. Political culture within Councils – elected members Some respondents explained that political group meetings could be difficult. “It did take a long time to get your head round why this happens in that way or why x person didn’t like y person…what was going on… everyone could speak although for a while I didn’t… (I had) that feeling I might be missing something... We took about a year or so to get our voices (but) the new women that have come in are quicker” Full Council meetings could be a particular problem in terms of culture “I often think would I have become a councillor if I had gone to full council before my first meeting. I genuinely don’t know whether I would given how intimidating (it was and how the masculine toxicity of that time that there was… it was awful… it was Warren Bradley and Joe (Anderson) and these screaming matches at each other…” “Up until last year I did exit interviews…. I even went back to speak to women about why they had left… and much of it was about the aggression and the cliques and the negativity… and they just felt that this wasn’t what they got involved in. Most of them loved Select Committees because Select Committees tend to be either equal or more women so the disussions tended to be different and it was conversations…”


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16. Political culture within parties and campaigning It can be difficult, particularly for younger women or those who are seen as less experienced, to establish themselves in the party or campaigning environment.

there was a discussion about who was going to be on the exec and the exec at that time was made up of four men… there was no vote… and I said something and [XXX] said something and he just screamed at us”

A number of interviewees highlighted the difficulties of “breaking into” well established teams. It is apparent that those with longer experience ( not always men) can find it difficult to pass over jobs or roles to others. Problems identified included a reluctance to allow newer candidates or campaigners to take on roles. This in turn means the newer person, in many cases a women, cannot develop the experience and confidence to be in control of activities. This in turn means that some activities can only happen when the more experienced male campaigner is present. One interviewee illustrated this by talking about canvassing. Canvassing is often done in a group, with one person using “the board” which is a list of houses to call on which is then used to record information. The “board runner” will send the other participants to certain addresses and will then record the information brought back. This activity is a crucial part of campaigning and the information collected is central. However one woman explained that she was never actually allowed to control the board or have access to the material. “That means I can’t decide when we are going or where we are going and I don’t have the information [even] in a campaign where I am the candidate”. Political parties have different units of organisation. Some members will see their main focus at ward or branch level. Others are more likely to relate to a Constituency or area organisation. However whatever the actual unit, some respondents felt that it was important to have a balance (not just in terms of gender) in the leadership “Within political parties rule changes need to make it clear that there is an expectation of equality in terms of all the protected characteristics at all levels of the organisation. Membership and leadership should broadly reflect the population. To not do so is clearly unfair, unethical and discriminatory” Obviously the members of political parties are initially self-selecting, and it could happen that a much larger number of one gender or one race join. The broader point here though is that parties can decide to put more effort into recruitment if a segment of the population is not represented. They can also think about how meetings and campaign events function. “They [career politicians] appear to be very set in their ways. I have found them to be aggressive, bullying and intimidating at times” ““We need to empower women at local branch and CLP level. There have been long periods in local politics where it has been male driven, partially through custom and practice and partially through men having the louder voice.” “Many local parties are dominated by men. Even good men with high levels of respect for women can be unaware they are part of creating and perpetuating a male/ macho culture in politics.”

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17. Time pressures and childcare Child-care, and the related issues of time-pressure and the timing of events came through strongly in the research for this report. One local activist described how her daughter’s age meant she felt unable to even think about standing for council until secondary school age was reached “Child care is a barrier… a complete barrier. And it’s always the women who get left with the children. It’s never the men. It’s like what they do is more important than what we do…”

“… what is considered important are the big projects… everything is about boss politics at the moment and the emphasis on what is important to women, which cuts across everything but is a different mind-set, is just dismissed…”

Child- care can also mean a delay in starting out on a Council, which in turn may limit promotion prospects ““Having a young family prevented me from becoming a councillor earlier” This delay is completely understandable and is no different to the sort of career breaks that working mothers often take. In an environment however in which “promotion” does not necessarily bear this in mind, there is a clear knock on effect on the leadership pipeline. A keen activist who is not able to attempt election for a number of years may simply end up overlooked in future selections. Money becomes an issue here too. Councillors can claim allowances to pay for the cost of child-care, but this can only be used for certain duties. Being an elected member often involves many other activities which do not qualify but which have to be done. “The rules for claiming childcare expenses in local government are very restrictive. You can only claim for meetings at which members of more than one group are invited - so full Council and Committee meetings. So I can't claim anything for [other Council activities which don’t qualify] or group meetings which are monthly… I have at least one evening a week when I have to pay a babysitter. This is in effect a 'tax' from my allowance that I estimate costs around £800 a year. “


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18. What does a Councillor look like? “On occasion they would say, I want to see the Councillor… here I am… not you love, the real Councillor. I am the real Councillor. I can’t help you if you don’t tell me. Most people have come round to it and are used to it, but there is still some resistance” Some interviewees reported some pressure, or the expectation or pressure, over how to dress and the need to have an appearance fitting a particular type. Some made the point that looking from outside at the existing political “club” could convince women, particularly younger women, that the role was not for “people like them”. On top of any pressure to appear a particular “type”, media focus on appearance works very differently for men and women. The fact that the focus, particularly in the media, on the appearance of female politicians is a disincentive for young women is worrying. In 2018 a Girlguiding report found that more than thirty per cent of those who took part in a survey cited the media coverage of female politicians as the factor which would put them off getting involved. This was the greatest of the disincentives mentioned.

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19. What local women say – survey results. A survey of women involved in politics, both as Councillors and activists, was carried out in the Autumn of 2019. Participants were asked, via an on-line survey, a series of questions designed to discover more about what problems existed and how they might be overcome. Invitations were sent widely, both via the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and using the contacts of the researcher and members of the stakeholder group. Respondents were self-selecting which means some parties are more represented than others. However responses were received from members of the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green Parties as well as from independents across the area. The survey asked for the main barriers to carrying out the job of an elected member on a local authority. Respondents were able to choose more than one from a list. Timing of meetings was identified as the most significant problem, both in terms of clashes with work and in terms of clashes with family responsibilities. Barrier

Percentage identifying this as a problem

Timing of meetings clashing with work

62

Timing of meetings clashing with family responsibilities

48

Culture of the authority Difficulty of arranging child care

45

at short notice

31

Other

18

Percentage figures rounded. Respondent figure: 66 Other barriers identified included resistance from other party members when asked to change the timings of political meetings, such as branch meetings. While this isn’t strictly speaking a local authority issue, it could well impact on the ability of elected members to relate well to their supporting party. The survey asked for the main barriers faced when attempting to get selected as a candidate. Respondents were able to choose more than one from a list. Here the top barrier was competition from those already established in a role. Lack of self-confidence came second. Barrier

Percentage identifying this as a problem

Competition from already established people

59

Lack of confidence in self

40

Lack of information about the role of elected member and what it might entail

30

Other

25

Perception of what a candidate looks like

22

Timing of selection meetings

18

Lack of information about how to apply

18

Percentage figures rounded. Respondent figure 66 Other barriers identified included “male, old school” branches, bullying and networking and information sessions tending to be too far away.


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The survey asked what women thought parties should do to try to remove some of the barriers. Respondents were able to choose more than one option from a list. Some of the barriers identified are perception ones – that women are not seen in particular roles. That means some options are designed either to provide more leadership opportunities or to make women more visible. The highest scoring options were mentoring, information about being a candidate and actively seeking out potential candidates whether initially a party member or not. All Women Shortlists scored low on this question, although it is worth bearing in mind that Labour respondents were less likely to choose this as it is something their party does already. This means the responses on this item should be discounted. It is also worth bearing in mind that some respondents commented that they specifically opposed All Women Shortlists and that there has been some negative comment on this from women interviewed in more depth. What should parties do?

Percentage choosing this option

Introduce more mentoring schemes

73

Actively seek out good potential female candidates - whether they are initially a member of the party or not

65

Publish more widely information about how to be a candidate

54

Introduce more training sessions aimed at women only

50

Publish more case study material about successful/role model women

41

Introduce a policy of 50:50 in terms of committee chairs for the committee chairs the party controls

39

Introduce 50: 50 job share situations in leadership roles to ensure there is always a female in the role.

35

Publish data on gender balance of those seeking to be candidates

32

Introduce All Women Shortlists

29

Other

24

Introduce a policy of 50:50 in terms of lead proposer for motions controlled by the party

21

Percentage figures rounded. Respondent figure 71 Other options identified included increasing child care allowances. Some respondents made the point that many suggested changes could only be made if there were already strong women in some leadership roles, for example in local branches, as changes would need to be driven through. One respondent made the interesting point that the system expects individuals to be effectively good at doing everything in order to have a role and that this could filter out those who are not born campaigners or councillors but have other strengths to offer. Another wanted to see more job shares generally.

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20. Localised action to date - what works or what might work All political parties in the area studied have made efforts to recruit, involve and promote more women. These efforts have not always been successful and in a busy campaigning environment can be seen as peripheral to a main task. It is possible though that competitor parties can still learn from each other.

Southport Labour party operates Coffee and Politics meetings as a more informal add on to the usual calendar of women’s forums. This enables those who can’t attend the other meetings to play more of a role and feel part of the whole.

Liverpool Liberal Democrats’ policy manifesto for the 2020 elections commits to actions to ensure a continued 50:50 gender balance on the Council group and to bring together “women of influence” to “conduct an audit of all public sector organisations in the City to review the position of women in senior management positions and on controlling Boards.”

The Liverpool Green Party re advertises selection vacancies if there is no female applicant. This does not always ensure that women come forward, but does help the local party avoid all-male shortlists.

More examples of good practice are available in the fuller version of this report and the supporting notes at edgehill.ac.uk/isr/publications.


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21. Conclusion It is more than 100 years now since women were able to stand for Parliament. It is even longer since women began standing for some local authorities. Eleanor Rathbone for example was elected to Liverpool City Council in 1909. As is often the case, local initiatives preceded those at national level. And yet, despite some welcome progress, local elected bodies are still missing out on the talent and commitment of some of their citizens. As the Local Government Association puts it, in Twenty First Century Councils, “Good democratic decision-making needs local politicians who reflect the range of experiences, insights connections and networks that exist in their local communities. This includes women, candidates who have parental responsibilities and candidates who have caring responsibilities… Local government is too important to miss out on skills and talent for no good reason” As still new institutions, Combined Authorities have a window of opportunity to become thought leaders in this area. This report is a contribution to that thought.

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22. Recommendations Clearly political parties will need to take their own decisions about selection and election campaigning and that political groups have the authority to take their own decisions about internal arrangements. This means parties and groups may accept our recommendations but apply them in different ways. 22.1 Recommendations to political parties Political parties should collect and publish data on the gender of applicants for selection, on shortlists and on final candidate, (anonymised at points) for elections at Municipal, Mayoral and PCC level. They should commit to an annual internal review of trends and progress. Political parties should ensure that visual representations of the party, when campaigning or when involved in other communication activities, never consists of a group of one gender. 22.2 Recommendations to local councils within the LCR The six local authorities are already working on a Liverpool City Region Equality Framework for Local Government which will include commitments on understanding and working with the community, on leadership and organisation and on promoting a diverse and engaged workforce. The framework, which is currently in draft (Feb 2020) is part of a programme of “progressive measures” to advance the equality and diversity agenda across the City Region. This means it provides a timely vehicle to take forward actions to achieve equality and empowerment for women in local government. Using performance monitoring and scrutiny as a driver for change, as suggested by the framework, Councils should include in their scrutiny the examination of the findings of the Fawcett Society and those of other relevant reports on promoting women’s equal participation in local government. This should take account of issues such as the timing of meetings and parental leave policies for members which are identified through evidence as potential barriers to women’s participation in public life As part of ongoing progress on workforce diversity and on demonstrating movement towards greater equality of previously underrepresented groups, Councils should include a focus on the involvement of women as elected members and in leadership roles as elected members in their work. As part of using the draft framework’s focus on analysing and using data and information, Councils should include exit interviews with former elected members as part of that data collection and analysis.


EDGE HILL UNIVERSITY : DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY

22.3 Recommendations to LCR area elected Politicians at national level LCR area MPs should consider what legislative or persuasive efforts they can make to get Section 106 of the Equalities Act implemented or to extend its force to local government through another piece of legislation. This might be through a Private Members Bill or other Parliamentary device. 22.4 Recommendations to the Combined Authority and Metro Mayor The Combined Authority, through FASJAB, should work with local authorities and other anchor institutions in the city region to ensure opportunities to serve on public bodies are widely publicised and that a diversity of applicants is encouraged. The Combined Authority, through FASJAB, should conduct an annual review of gender balance in local politics, reviewing data and reflecting on progress. This should form part of a report to the CA on an annual basis. The Combined Authority, through FASJAB, should hold an annual event to showcase positive action on equality and diversity in the City Region.

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BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING – CAN DEVOLUTION DELIVER?

References 50:50 Parliament https://5050parliament.co.uk/askhertostand/ [accessed 13 August 2019] Berman (2005) The Law on Gender Parity in Politics in France and New Caledonia. Oxford University Comparative Legal Forum 2. Berthezene and Gottlieb (2018) Rethinking right-wing women. Manchester. Manchester University Press. Bjarnegard and Zetterberg (2017) Political parties, formal selection criteria and gendered parliamentary representation. Party Politics. 1- 11. Sage British Council (2018) Women Power Politics: What’s Changed in 100 Years? Brooks, Eagle, Short (1990) Quotas now: women in the Labour Party. Fabian Society Department of Communities and Local Government (2013) Consultation on LCR proposals https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachmen t_data/file/262083/Proposal_to_establish_a_combined_authority_for_Greater_Merseyside_ -_Consultation_v1.pdf [accessed 17 September 2019] Durose et al (2011) Pathways to Politics. Equality and Human Rights Commission https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=med&dir=c76%2Fcha&document=index&l ang=e [accessed 4 September 2019] Fawcett Society (2017) Does Local Government Work for Women? Girlguiding (2018) We See the Big Picture. House of Commons Library Briefings https://www.idea.int/data-tools/data/gender-quotas/legislative-overview [accessed 3 September 2019] IPU (2012) Plan of Action for Gender Sensitive Parliaments. Inter Parliamentary Union Kaur (2020) Sex and Power 2020. Fawcett Society Liberal Democrats Federal Conference Agenda September 2019 https://www.libdems.org.uk/autumn-19-agenda [accessed 18 Sept 2019] Liverpool City Council Audit and Governance Select Committee 5 September 2019 http://councillors.liverpool.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=1589&MId=17406&Ver=4 [accessed 6 Jan 2020] Liverpool City Council Equality Report 2018 Liverpool Combined Authority Constitution https://www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk/wpcontent/uploads/LCRCA_Constitution_May_2018.pdf [accessed 17 September 2019] Local Government Association (2019) Twenty-First Century Councils Local Government Association Labour Group https://www.local.gov.uk/search/all/labour%2Bgroup Lancashire County Council Overview and Scrutiny Report March 2019. “Does Local Government Work for Women?” McAllister et al (2014) Expert Group on local government and Diversity. On Balance: Diversifying Democracy in Local Government in Wales McNeil, Roberts, Snelling (2017) Power to the People: Tackling the Gender Imbalance in Combined Authorities and Local Governnment. IPPR National Assembly for Wales (2019) Report on Diversity in Local Government. http://www.assembly.wales/laid%20documents/cr-ld12488/cr-ld12488-e.pdf [accessed 9 September 2019] O’Neill, Pruysers and Stewart (2019) Glass Cliffs or Partisan Pressure? Examining Gender and Party Leader Tenures and Exits. Political Studies. Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Parliament Project http://www.parliamentproject.co.uk/ [accessed 9 September 2019] Russell, Lovenduski, Stephenson (2002) Women’s Political Particiation in the UK. British Council and the UCL Constitution Unit.


EDGE HILL UNIVERSITY : DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY

39

Acknowledgments

We are very grateful to the following who took part in interviews or provided information and leads. Ms Victoria Begg Mr Peter Cranie Democratic Services Halton Democratic Services Knowsley Democratic Services St Helens Democratic Services Wirral Press Office, Greater Manchester Combined Authority Cllr Robyn Hattersley Labour Group Office, Local Government Association Cllr Samantha Marshall Cllr Moira McLaughlin Cllr Linda Mussell Cllr Ann O’Byrne Cllr Pat O’ Hanlon Ms Jen Robertson Cllr Pauline Sinnott Cllr Terry Stacy, Local Government Association Cllr Carran Waterfield Cllr Hetty Wood Cllr Louise Whitley Cllr Marie Wright And to those women of the LCR area who kindly took part in our survey. Thanks are due to the sponsors of this publication and its launch, Edge Hill University’s Institute of Social Responsibility.

Paula Keaveney is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Edge Hill University and a former member of Liverpool City Council. She was Chair of Edge Hill University’s Wonder Women Campaign in 2018.

Design: Mark Molloy, EHU Creative Services Print: The Printroom UK

INTRODUCTION

Thanks are due to the project stakeholder group of: Cllr Jayne Aston, Victoria Begg, Karen Bellion, Anne Davies, Cllr Denise Dutton, Jane Garner, Erica Kemp, Jade Marsden, Cllr Pat O’Hanlon, Cllr Laura Robertson-Collins, Cllr Carla Thomas, Cllr Lynne Thompson


The Institute for Social Responsibility (ISR) is Edge Hill University’s cross-disciplinary research and knowledge exchange initiative. Established in 2013, as the Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice, its remit has grown to critically examine broad conceptualisations of social responsibility across the social sciences, arts and humanities. The Institute is committed to exploring the opportunities for cross sector collaboration and co-operation and to draw on the experience of practitioners as well as academic researchers to inform new ways of working and learning.

You can download fuller version of the report at: edgehill.ac.uk/isr Institute for Social Responsibilty Edge Hill University St Helens Road Ormskirk Lancashire L39 4QP United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 1695 575171 Š Paula Keaveney 2020 Published by Edge Hill University Extracts from this document may be reproduced for non-commercial research, education or training purposes on the condition that the source is acknowledged. For any other use please contact: ISR@edgehill.ac.uk

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Profile for Edge Hill University

Breaking The Glass Ceiling – Can Devolution Deliver?  

Breaking The Glass Ceiling – Can Devolution Deliver? Paula Keaveney Edge Hill University

Breaking The Glass Ceiling – Can Devolution Deliver?  

Breaking The Glass Ceiling – Can Devolution Deliver? Paula Keaveney Edge Hill University

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