Part 1 of a 2 posts looking at gender equality in Medway politics. This part looks at the council and it’s candidate, the second will look at those standing for Parliament.
It’s not necessarily helpful to get too bogged down in demographics or representation, so we’re going to spend an entire post doing just that. Specifically, we’re going to look at the gender divide for councillors and council candidates.
To begin, here is an infographic showing the current composition of the council by gender:
This chart shows that 16 of the 55 current councillors are women. While this is by no means equal, such is the will of the electorate and all that. So long as a roughly equal number of candidates are put forward, we shouldn’t quibble too much about the outcome, should we?
So, how’s that equality in candidates going? About this well:
In pure numbers, there are a nice round 200 candidates for council seats in Medway. Of those, only 57 are being contested by women.
Now, this article isn’t being written to assign blame to anyone in particular. All parties struggle to find enough candidates to fight council seats (indeed, only Labour and the Conservatives found 55 in Medway), and if women aren’t putting themselves forward, there isn’t a great deal an individual local party can do about it. That said, with our love of graphics, let’s take a look at how well each party has done:
The Conservatives have 13 female candidates out of a full slate of 55, or 24%.
Labour have done slightly better, managing 16 candidates out of 55, a stunning 29%.
The UKIP “vote for change” bus rolls on, with 6 of their 32 candidates not being men, or 19%.
TUSC are the only party to achieve equality in their candidates selections, with 55%, or 12 of their 22 candidates being women.
The Lib Dems are doing okay in this regard, but they only have 18 candidates overall. Of those though, 7, or 39%, are female.
The Green Party have the least gender equal slate of candidates in Medway, with only 2 of their 13 candidates, or 15%, being women.
So where does all this leave you as a voter on the ground in Medway? Well, unless you’re in Twydall or Watling, the only two wards where half the candidates are women, you’re left with a lot of men. This is especially true if you live in Cuxton & Halling or Lordswood & Capstone, where there are precisely no women on the ballot paper. There’s a number of wards where there is only one or two as well, so there’s still a long way to go in the battle for council equality.
Of course, equality in candidates is pretty redundant unless more female selections take place in winnable wards. Using the predictions this blog made for council seats, we calculated how many women are likely to be sitting on Medway council in two weeks time. In the “best case scenario”, we estimate 16 women will be on the council, which is how many are currently there. At the lowest end, we estimate only 9 could take seats. In reality, it’s likely be somewhere in the middle, meaning the next council will be even less equal than the current one, which is quite an achievement.
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