subscribe: Posts | Comments

Women and equality report: progress slow


Sex and Power 2018, Fawcett Society, report, women in business, women in the arts, quotas, flexitime“To get to where we are today, we’ve had to fight every step of the way. And we have to carry on fighting now.”

For 2018, the centenary year of (some) women first getting the vote in parliamentary elections the Fawcett Society has brought together a new edition of the Sex and Power dataset.

One hundred years on from when the first women gained a say in how the country is run, it is an assessment of where we have made progress on representation – and where we have not.

The Sex and Power series was first published by the Equal Opportunities Commission fifteen years ago, then taken over by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for several years, and then for 5 years up to 2015 the ‘Counting Women In coalition’ collected and collated data on women’s representation across different areas of public life.


In the Fawcett Society’s 2018 report you will find a breakdown of percentages of women in power across politics, business and public life; an analysis of women’s representation in politics, businesses, the arts and more; and the Fawcett Society’s conclusions and recommendations – including a time-limited use of quotas across public bodies and the boards of large corporate organisations.

The Index shows that women – who make up 50 per cent of the UK’s population – make up only 26 per cent of cabinet ministers, 34.5 per cent of those who attend Cabinet, 50 per cent of the Shadow Cabinet, 32 per cent of MPs, 33 per cent of select committee chairs, 26 per cent of peers in the House of Lords, none of the metro mayors and just 11 per cent of combined Authority representatives, 17.5 per cent of Police and Crime Commissioners, and 17 per cent of council leaders and 33 per cent of councillors in England in politics.

In public life only 16.7 per cent Supreme Court Justices, 26 per cent of University Vice Chancellors, 38 per cent of secondary school headteachers, and 31.6 per cent of NHS Trust chairs are women.

In the Arts, only 21.7 per cent of chairs of art galleries and museums, 34 per cent of directors of art galleries and museums, 65 per cent of theatre audiences but only 39 per cent of casts and 28 per cent of playwrights, 16.4 per cent of film directors, 30.9 per cent of producers, 32.3 per cent of casts of British films are women and 91 per cent of women’s roles are prostitute characters and 91 per cent of housekeeper roles are represented by women.

In business, only 6 per cent of FTSE 100 CEOs, 9.8 per cent of executive roles, and 27.7 per cent of all directorships are women

And only 2.7 per cent of statues in the UK are of women.

Where there is data available Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women, or disabled women, are even less likely to be represented.

There are no BAME women at the top of FTSE 100 organisations.

BAME women make up approximately 7 per cent of the UK’s total population – but just 4 per cent of MPs.

There are only two women MPs in the house of Commons who identify as disabled people.

Clearly, the pace of change must be accelerated to achieve equal power for women.

The report calls for:

A time-limited use of quotas across public bodies and the boards of large corporate organisations, enabled by law. For other organisations who cannot countenance quota systems, set targets and publish an action plan;

The government to legislate for all roles to be advertised on a flexible working basis, unless there is a business reason for them not to be, and more roles to be available on part-time or job-share basis;

The immediate implementation of Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010 to gather candidate monitoring data, extended to include local government; and

Across the board, arts funding to be tied to a proactive policy of gender equal representation in arts, culture and memorials to redress this imbalance and to set a target of gender equal representation.


Sam Smethers said: “When we see this data brought together it is both shocking and stark – despite some prominent women leaders, men haven’t let go of the reins of power and progress is painfully slow.

“Equality won’t happen on its own. We have to make it happen.

“That is why we are calling for time-limited use of quotas and making all jobs flexible by default.

“We have to correct this imbalance for future generations and we have to ensure that women today can overcome those persistent structural barriers which hold all of us back.

“This moment in our history is not about yesterday, it’s about tomorrow.”

And Caroline Criado Perez said: “The past hundred years for women have been momentous and have left us more liberated than ever before – at least in law.

“But equality on paper isn’t the same as equality in real life – and as the dismal figures outlined in this report reveal, we still have a long way to go here.

“If we are ever to get to our final destination, we have to stop pretending that the path to true equality is out of our hands.

“To get to where we are today, we’ve had to fight every step of the way. And we have to carry on fighting now.

“Power is never given freely. Liberty is never achieved by chance. It is achieved by design. So, let’s start designing it.”

To read the full report click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *