Whitehall ‘lacks ambition’ to fix gender imbalance as six proposals rejected

The government has today been slammed for “lacking ambition” in driving gender equality in Whitehall, as Downing Street rejected six proposals to improve women’s representation in the Commons and local government.

The Women and Equalities Committee suggested the proposals in January, which included setting a domestic target of 45% representation of women in Parliament and local government by 2030 – but the government’s response, released this week, failed to support any of the committee’s points.

Though Downing Street said it “strongly supports the aim to increase the diversity of the House of Commons”, the response went on to suggest that political parties must retain full responsibility for candidate selection.

It also said that the government did not believe that setting minimum quotas for the proportion of female candidates put forward for elections was the right approach to solving the diversity issue.

In that same vein, yet another suggestion – to force parties to publish their candidate diversity data for general elections – was also turned down by the government.

Unsurprisingly, the Women and Equality Committee’s chair Maria Miller launched a scathing attack on the government’s position, arguing that the UK was failing to step up and become a world leader on women’s representation.

“While political parties bear a great deal of responsibility for increasing women’s representation, the government can make a real difference,” she said. “The government should be actively promoting transparency and equality of opportunity for women as Parliamentary candidates.

“The government’s failure to commit to this - or to accept any of the committee’s other recommendations – shows a complete lack of action and ambition to bring about real change.”

A number of recent reports have laid bare the sad state of gender equality in both central and local government in the UK. Just last month, a study from the IPPR explained that more than 3,000 female candidates were needed to achieve gender parity in local government.

And the Fawcett Society showed that in counties, gender inclusion was found to actually be going backwards, as representation was likely to not be equal until 2065.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest news

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

23/06/2020Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

Evolution is crucial in any business and Public Sector Executive is no different. Long before Covid-19 even became a thought in the back of our minds, the team at PS... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

public sector events

events calendar


August 2020

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6

featured articles

View all News