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Trends in Women


Trends in Women s Political Representation in Scotland Meryl Kenny ( Visiting Fellow, University of Edinburgh Vice-Chancellor s Fellow ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Trends in Women

Trends in Womens Political Representation in
  • Meryl Kenny (
  • Visiting Fellow, University of Edinburgh
  • Vice-Chancellors Fellow, University of New South
  • Constitutional Futures Seminar
  • Session II Constitutions, Quotas and Womens
    Political Representation
  • 14-15 February 2013

Trends over Time Scottish Parliament Elections
Trends over Time post-1999
  • Overall trend of stasis or regression in numbers
    of female MSPs elected post-1999 in the majority
    of the main Scottish parties
  • Labour only party to adopt strong quota measures
    across all elections (but post-1999 low cost
    measures aimed at regional lists)
  • Use of quotas in 1999 (particularly Labours
    twinning of constituency seats) continues to
    hold up headline figures, but overall decline in
    recruitment/election of female candidates
  • Womens representation no longer a matter of
    party competition
  • Progress post-1999 brought about more by accident
    than design, and gender quotas/gender balance
    still poorly institutionalized within parties
    (Mackay, 2003 Mackay and Kenny, 2007 Kenny and
    Mackay, 2011)

Trends over Time Scottish political parties
Womens Representation in Scotland at other levels
How were gains achieved?
  • Windows of opportunity provided by wider reform
    processes party and political modernization
    feminization, institutional change
    constitutional restructuring, and wider
    international trends (quota fever)
  • Electoral reform at Scottish Parliament level
    new avenues more places for women (and no
  • Sustained campaign within/outwith political
    parties on womens representation (esp. Labour)
  • Agreements on gender equality/womens
    representation through SCC, Electoral Contract,
    womens conferences, White Paper Scotland Act
  • Womens representation widely accepted as a
    general principle and as a matter of party
    competition (Kenny and Mackay, 2013)

Key Lessons (1)
  • Change can happen...but need to be vigilant
  • Importance of organized womens activists and
    allies, but gender equality issues can easily
    slip off of the agenda (Mackay and McAllister,
  • Numbers matter...but arent everything
  • Prominent role of women in Scottish Parliament
    has shaped political priorities and ways of
    working (Mackay et al. 2003).
  • But, link not always straightforward future
    progress uncertain
  • Quotas work...but once is not enough
  • Equality measures havent caught on across
    parties or political levels (Kenny and Mackay,
  • Implementation is key importance of winnable
    seats/positions, transparency/accountability, and
    effective sanctions for non-compliance (Kenny and
    Verge, 2013)

Key Lessons (2)
  • Scotland still a leader...but for how long?
  • 1999 and 2003 as high tide of womens
    representation in Scotland?
  • Continued reluctance of major parties to take
    bold and sustained action
  • Wider trends of glacial progress, stagnation or
    slippage in womens representation over time and
    across different levels
  • Is womens representation too important to be
    left up to political parties?
  • Time has come for stronger measures, including
    mandatory legal quotas

References and Resources
  • University of Edinburgh Gender Politics Blog
  • M. Kenny (2013) Gender and Political Recruitment
    Theorizing Institutional Change. Basingstoke
  • M. Kenny and F. Mackay (2013) When is Contagion
    not very Contagious? Dynamics of Womens
    Political Representation in Scotland,
    Parliamentary Affairs (doi 10.1093/pa/gss109).
  • M. Kenny and T. Verge (2013) Decentralization,
    Political Parties and Womens Representation
    Evidence from Spain and Britain, Publius The
    Journal of Federalism, 43 (1), 109-128.
  • F. Mackay and L. McAllister (2012) Feminising
    British Politics Six Lessons from Devolution in
    Scotland and Wales, Political Quarterly, 83 (3),
  • M. Kenny and F. Mackay (2012) Less Male, Pale
    and Stale? Women and the 2012 Scottish Local
    Government Elections, Scottish Affairs, 80
    (Summer), 20-32.
  • M. Kenny and F. Mackay (2011) In the Balance
    Women and the 2011 Scottish Parliament
    Elections, Scottish Affairs, 76 (Summer), 74-90.
  • F. Mackay and M. Kenny (2007) Womens
    Representation in the 2007 Scottish Parliament
    Temporary Setback or Return to the Norm?,
    Scottish Affairs, 60 (Summer), 25-38.
  • F. Mackay (2003) Women and the 2003 elections
    keeping up the momentum, Scottish Affairs, 44
    (Summer), 74-90.
  • F. Mackay, F. Myers and A. Brown (2003) Towards
    a new politics? Women and the Constitutional
    Change in Scotland in A. Dobrowolsky and V. Hart
    (eds) Women Making Constitutions. Basingstoke
    Palgrave, pp. 84-98.
  • M. Russell, F. Mackay and L. McAllister (2002)
    Womens Representation in the Scottish
    Parliament and National Assembly for Wales Party
    Dynamics for Achieving Critical Mass, Journal of
    Legislative Studies, 8 (2), 49-76.