Here’s how we can get more women in parliament

Women make up more than half of the UK population—but less than a third of its MPs. After June 8, it’ll likely be the same. What can we do to improve things?

by Sam Smethers / May 31, 2017 /
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What percentage of MPs are women? And how do we encourage more women to run for parliament? Photo: UK Parliament

There just aren’t enough women. In the world. In our society. Anywhere apparently. Over half the population just isn’t enough.

That’s historically been the reason given for the political parties failing to put more women forward for election. There is a truth in this, in that many women won’t consider themselves for political office unless someone proactively asks them to stand.

Persistence may be required, too, because women may take several attempts to be persuaded. 50:50 Parliament’s #Askhertostand campaign is spot on in that respect.

Why do women need to be talked into it?

Politics is still perceived to be a man’s world. Sad but true. Just look at Prime Minister’s Questions—or, if you have ever been to parliament itself, think about it: it just reeks of gentleman’s club, doesn’t it?

Women are often repelled by the thing they are being urged to join and, by joining, change it. But the institution of Westminster, we know, is very resistant to change.

It’s not family-friendly. The life of an MP involves long hours, working away from home in most cases. Women, particularly those with young children, are deterred by the inability to combine being an MP with their unpaid caring work.