Political parties have a responsibility on gender representation

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By Charlotte Snelling, IPPR Research Fellow

If you find yourself in a conversation about “the 2017 election”, there’s a strong likelihood you’ll be about to dissect the results of June’s general election, debating the merits of May versus Corbyn as PM, and not gearing up for a discussion on the finer points of those elections which took place just a month before, in the realm of Westminster’s less sexy cousin; local government.

Councils are often viewed as Parliament’s poor relation, not a place where real power lies. This ignores the fact that many of the decisions which affect our day-to-day lives are made by our local councils - where our houses are built, how our health and social care is delivered, and how our public spaces are maintained. And yet, new research by IPPR finds that these local decisions are frequently being taken by male-dominated and male-led councils, given disproportionate under-representation of women in local politics.

Only a third of councillors in England, and only 17% of council leaders, are women. These patterns vary across the country and while some councils perform better than others on gender balance, it’s very hard not to see local government as anything other than an institution with a serious diversity problem. This would not be the first time that the words ‘pale, male and stale’ have been used.

Click here to read the full article published by the Huffington Post on 23 August 2017.