“Not only is equal representation the right thing for women and other underrepresented groups but it can also mean better governance”.
Women make up 51% of the population in Wales, and it’s nearly a century since women won the right to vote; yet the levels of women’s representation in some parts of Welsh public life remains unchanged from the time of Lloyd George.
Walk into most boardrooms, council chambers or decision making meetings in Wales and the chances are that an overwhelming majority of people around the table will be men.
In March 2013 the Electoral Reform Society published their Welsh Power Report 2013 which finds that “In almost all of the fields which could be included in the definition of ‘public life’ the over-representation of men is evident; in some the absence of women is marked”. Even in trades and professions in which women predominate as employees, they are often hard to find at the top.
They also fear that: “At current rates of ‘progress’ a girl child born today will have to wait till her 63rd birthday before we have equal numbers of female and male councillors across Welsh local government” .
It is often said that the lack of women in public and political life is a consequence of women not putting themselves forward. However, from our own Women Making a Difference research, almost all women (no matter what their academic or professional achievement) say they are not confident to apply for these positions and don’t feel they have the necessary skills to be successful in their application.
Additionally, most women don’t generally move in the circles where these appointments and positions are being discussed or recruited (the perception being that this happens on the golf course; not in the playground) and many women say they are not even aware of where these positions are being advertised. Even when they do see an advert for a public appointment, they believe they don’t fit the skill requirements or person spec.
To quote the National Assembly for Wales Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler “all you need is the confidence to take the first step” and to this end, WMAD are delighted to be supporting the Presiding Officer’s project to get more women into public life in Wales by hosting her web portal on the WMAD website. This portal is intended to be a useful tool for women in Wales to find out about public appointments, vacancies – and ‘take their first step’.
Women Making a Difference Project Manager
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