At 35% we still have a long way to go on women’s representation

Author:
Lizzie Lawless, Membership and Digital Officer

Posted on the 8th March 2024

It’s been over a hundred years since some women won the right to stand as MPs and vote in 1918. But women only won the vote on the same terms as men in 1928, and the first woman prime minister wasn’t until 1979.

While an increasing number of women have won seats in the House of Commons in recent years they still only make up 35% of the chamber. This fact hides how recent a phenomenon large numbers of women MPs has been. There are currently 226 women in parliament, out of a house of 650 members – but there have only ever been 564 women MPs in history. In the whole history of our democracy, we haven’t elected enough women as MPs to even fill the House of Commons.

Below are the names of all women who have won election to the House of Commons, starting from the first female MP, Sinn Féin’s Constance Markievicz (who was in Holloway Prison at the time and never took her seat), to Gen Kitchen, who won the Wellingborough by-election on the 15th February 2024.

All the women MPs ever elected

Countess Constance Markievicz, Viscountess Nancy Astor, Margaret Wintringham, Mabel Philipson, Dorothea Jewson, Arabella Susan Lawrence, Margaret Bondfield, Lady Vera Terrington, Duchess Katharine Of Atholl, Ellen Wilkinson, Countess Gwendolen Of Iveagh, Hilda Runciman , Florence Dalton, Jennie Lee, Edith Picton-Turbervill, Mary Hamilton, Dr Ethel Bentham, Lady Megan Lloyd George, Dr Marion Phillips, Lady Cynthia Mosley, Eleanor Rathbone, Lady Lucy Noel-Buxton, Leah Manning, Helen Shaw, Mavis Tate, Ida Copeland, Sarah Ward, Thelma Cazalet-Keir, Dame Irene Ward, Norah Runge, Dame Florence Horsburgh, Marjorie Graves, Mary Pickford, Viscountess Frances Davidson, Agnes Hardie, Dr Edith Summerskill, Jennie Adamson, Beatrice Wright, Lady Violet Apsley, Barbara Castle, Jean Mann, Grace Colman, Margaret Herbison, Barbara Gould, Alice Bacon,  Cbe, Muriel Nichol, Florence Paton, Freda Corbet, Mabel Ridealgh, Caroline Ganley, Bessie Braddock, Clarice Shaw, Edith Wills, Lucy Middleton, Priscilla,  Lady Tweedsmuir, Alice Cullen, Dorothy Rees, Eirene White, Elaine Burton, Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith, Eveline Hill, Harriet Slater, Patricia Ford, Dame Edith Pitt, Lena Jeger, Dame Joan Vickers, Joyce Butler, Patricia Mclaughlin, Evelyn Emmet, Mervyn Pike, Lady Muriel Gammans, Mary Mcalister, Betty Harvie Anderson, Dame Judith Hart, Margaret Thatcher, Joan Quennell Mbe, Anne Kerr, Shirley Williams, Dr Shirley Summerskill, Renee Short, Margaret Mckay, Dame Jill Knight, Joan Lestor, Gwyneth Dunwoody, Winifred Ewing, Bernadette Mcaliskey, Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman, Constance Monks, Doris Fisher, Sally Oppenheim, Dame Peggy Fenner, Dame Janet Fookes, Joan Hall, Mary Holt, Betty Boothroyd, Margo Macdonald, Maureen Colquhoun, Lynda Chalker, Audrey Wise, Jo Richardson, Millie Miller, Dame Margaret Beckett, Helene Hayman, Ann Taylor, Joan Maynard, Margaret Ewing, Dr Oonagh Mcdonald, Sheila Faith, Sheila Wright, Dame Angela Rumbold, Harriet Harman, Helen Mcelhone, Edwina Currie, Dame Marion Roe, Anna Mccurley, Elizabeth Peacock, Ann Winterton, Clare Short, Virginia Bottomley, Ann Clwyd, Elizabeth Shields, Llin Golding, Rosie Barnes, Joyce Quin, Ann Widdecombe, Gillian Shephard, Dame Dawn Primarolo, Joan Walley, Maria Fyfe, Maureen Hicks, Alice Mahon, Marjorie Mowlam, Hilary Armstrong, Teresa Gorman, Mildred Gordon, Dame Joan Ruddock, Emma Nicholson, Diane Abbott, Ray Michie, Kate Hoey, Sylvia Heal, Irene Adams, Jane Kennedy, Rachel Squire, Liz Lynne, Estelle Morris, Helen Jackson, Angela Knight, Jacqui Lait, Lady Olga Maitland, Dr Lynne Jones, Ann Coffey, Barbara Roche, Janet Anderson, Glenda Jackson, Jean Corston, Angela Browning, Anne Campbell, Dame Cheryl Gillan, Judith Chaplin, Bridget Prentice, Dame Tessa Jowell, Dame Angela Eagle, Diana Maddock, Dame Margaret Hodge, Judith Church, Helen Liddell, Roseanna Cunningham, Fiona Mactaggart, Dr Jenny Tonge, Christine Butler, Helen Jones, Joan Humble, Dame Siobhain Mcdonagh, Linda Gilroy, Christine Russell, Jenny Jones, Ann Keen, Dame Eleanor Laing, Melanie Johnson, Dr Phyllis Starkey, Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears, Beverley Hughes, Linda Perham, Dame Louise Ellman, Jackie Lawrence, Candy Atherton, Chris Mccafferty, Gillian Merron, Anne Mcguire, Barbara Follett, Gisela Stuart, Patricia Hewitt, Julie Morgan, Claire Ward, Debra Shipley, Charlotte Atkins, Margaret Moran, Oona King, Caroline Flint, Eileen Gordon, Fiona Jones, Joan Ryan, Dame Anne Begg, Anne Mcintosh, Dame Caroline Spelman, Claire Curtis-Thomas, Maria Eagle, Dame Rosie Winterton, Kali Mountford, Geraldine Smith, Jackie Ballard, Tess Kingham, Diana Organ, Angela E Smith, Helen Clark, Betty Williams, Ann Cryer, Janet Dean, Karen Buck, Dari Taylor, Helen Southworth, Liz Blackman, Laura Moffatt, Julia Drown, Yvette Cooper, Sandra Osborne, Dr Lynda Clark, Theresa May, Sally Keeble, Jane Griffiths, Julie Kirkbride, Valerie Davey, Shona Mcisaac, Judy Mallaber, Ruth Kelly, Rosemary Mckenna, Lorna Fitzsimons, Sandra Gidley, Meg Munn, Iris Robinson, Ann Mckechin, Anne Moffat, Sue Doughty, Vera Baird, Dame Angela Watkinson, Annette Brooke, Patsy Calton, Lady Sylvia Hermon, Annabelle Ewing, Michelle Gildernew, Sarah Teather, Sian C James, Anne Milton, Anne Main, Katy Clark, Julia Goldsworthy, Alison Seabeck, Kitty Ussher, Lynda Waltho, Justine Greening, Theresa Villiers, Madeleine Moon, Dame Maria Miller, Jenny Willott, Lorely Burt, Lyn Brown, Jo Swinson, Anne Snelgrove, Mary Creagh, Susan Kramer, Sarah Mccarthy-Fry, Helen Goodman, Dame Meg Hillier, Linda Riordan, Lynne Featherstone, Natascha Engel, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Angela C Smith, Celia Barlow, Kerry Mccarthy, Jessica Morden, Dame Diana R Johnson, Nadine Dorries, Dawn Butler, Emily Thornberry, Barbara Keeley, Sharon Hodgson, Rosie Cooper, Dame Nia Griffith, Chloe Smith, Valerie Vaz, Catherine Mckinnell, Pat Glass, Dame Priti Patel, Charlotte Leslie, Mary Macleod, Claire Perry, Anna Soubry, Fiona Bruce, Angie Bray, Esther Mcvey, Dr Sarah Wollaston, Tracey Crouch, Mary Glindon, Julie Elliott, Heather Wheeler, Pauline Latham, Caroline Nokes, Dame Caroline Dinenage, Lorraine Fullbrook, Julie Hilling, Yasmin Qureshi, Kate Green, Rachel Reeves, Lilian Greenwood, Cathy Jamieson, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Jessica Lee, Nicky Morgan, Bridget Phillipson, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, Penny Mordaunt, Chi Onwurah, Heidi Alexander, Yvonne Fovargue, Gloria De Piero, Jenny Chapman, Liz Kendall, Luciana Berger, Anne Marie Morris, Elizabeth Truss, Sheryll Murray, Helen Grant, Dame Andrea Leadsom, Dame Jackie Doyle-Price, Margot James, Jane Ellison, Nicola Blackwood, Harriett Baldwin, Karen Lumley, Gemma Doyle, Lisa Nandy, Margaret Curran, Susan Elan Jones, Rebecca Harris, Caroline Lucas, Louise Mensch, Teresa Pearce, Pamela Nash, Laura Sandys, Amber Rudd, Sarah Newton, Rushanara Ali, Shabana Mahmood, Naomi Long, Emma Reynolds, Sheila Gilmore, Fiona O’donnell, Margaret Ritchie, Tessa Munt, Dame Karen Bradley, Stella Creasy, Alison Mcgovern, Debbie Abrahams, Seema Malhotra, Lucy Powell, Sarah Champion, Emma Lewell-Buck, Liz Mcinnes, Amanda Solloway, Judith Cummins, Liz Saville-Roberts, Victoria Borwick, Kate Hollern, Nusrat Ghani, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Rebecca Pow, Mims Davies, Antoinette Sandbach, Angela Rayner, Rupa Huq, Maggie Throup, Suella Braverman, Sue Hayman, Melanie Onn, Catherine West, Angela Crawley, Mhairi Black, Dr Philippa Whitford, Joanna Cherry, Michelle Thomson, Lisa Cameron, Hannah Bardell, Kate Osamor, Paula Sherriff, Naz Shah, Corri Wilson, Carol Monaghan, Patricia Gibson, Helen Hayes, Vicky Foxcroft, Kirsten Oswald, Marion Fellows, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, Marie Rimmer, Thangam Debbonaire, Holly Lynch, Kirsty Blackman, Jess Phillips, Victoria Prentis, Flick Drummond, Colleen Fletcher, Catherine Smith, Deidre Brock, Natalie Mcgarry, Rebecca Long Bailey, Maria Caulfield, Alison Thewliss, Margaret Ferrier, Jo Cox, Rachael Maskell, Louise Haigh, Lucy Allan, Jo Stevens, Lucy Frazer, Victoria Atkins, Seema Kennedy, Karin Smyth, Wendy Morton, Margaret Greenwood, Dame Amanda Milling, Dame Andrea Jenkyns, Jo Churchill, Helen Whately, Julie Cooper, Tulip Siddiq, Anne Mclaughlin, Anna Turley, Ruth Cadbury, Carolyn Harris, Christina Rees, Tania Mathias, Mary Robinson, Ruth Smeeth, Kelly Tolhurst, Caroline Ansell, Heidi Allen, Michelle Donelan, Gill Furniss, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Tracy Brabin, Sarah Olney, Dr Caroline Johnson, Trudy Harrison, Fiona Onasanya, Kirstene Hair, Eleanor Smith, Marsha De Cordova, Wera Hobhouse, Jo Platt, Tonia Antoniazzi, Laura Smith, Christine Jardine, Anneliese Dodds, Emma Hardy, Thelma Walker, Ruth George, Laura Pidcock, Ellie Reeves, Stephanie Peacock, Liz Twist, Emma Little Pengelly, Rachel Maclean, Vicky Ford, Julia Lopez, Gillian Keegan, Anna Mcmorrin, Preet Gill, Lesley Laird, Danielle Rowley, Kemi Badenoch, Layla Moran, Karen Lee, Sarah Jones, Rosie Duffield, Emma Dent Coad, Elisha Mccallion, Órfhlaith Begley, Janet Daby, Ruth Jones, Lisa Forbes, Jane Dodds, Jo Gideon, Fay Jones, Feryal Clark, Nicola Richards, Jane Hunt, Dehenna Davison, Natalie Elphicke, Daisy Cooper, Wendy Chamberlain, Claire Hanna, Nickie Aiken, Siobhan Baillie, Alicia Kearns, Ruth Edwards, Joy Morrissey, Julie Marson, Jane Stevenson, Zarah Sultana, Apsana Begum, Felicity Buchan, Sarah Atherton, Virginia Crosbie, Miriam Cates, Kate Kniveton, Suzanne Webb, Munira Wilson, Cherilyn Mackrory, Laura Farris, Katherine Fletcher, Sara Britcliffe, Claire Coutinho, Holly Mumby-Croft, Lia Nici, Abena Oppong-Asare, Selaine Saxby, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Mary Foy, Paula Barker, Kim Johnson, Carla Lockhart, Beth Winter, Sarah Dines, Amy Callaghan, Alex Davies-Jones, Rachel Hopkins, Kate Osborne, Nadia Whittome, Taiwo Owatemi, Fleur Anderson, Florence Eshalomi, Sarah Owen, Claudia Webbe, Sally-Ann Hart, Angela Richardson, Olivia Blake, Charlotte Nichols, Laura Trott, Theo Clarke, Jill Mortimer, Anum Qaisar-Javed, Sarah Green, Kim Leadbeater, Helen Morgan, Anna Firth, Paulette Hamilton, Samantha Dixon, Ashley Dalton, Sarah Dyke, Sarah Edwards and Gen Kitchen.

First Past the Post holds back women’s representation

One of the reasons behind this slow change is First Past the Post. In Westminster, the same person will often hold on to their ‘safe seat’ for decades. When historically men held nearly all the seats, it’s no surprise that this is very often a man today.

With few seats changing hands at each general election, there are limited opportunities for women to become MPs. Moving to a proportional electoral system would clear away some of the barriers which curtail women becoming MPs. But we need to make more urgent steps if we want to see change.

Click to add your name to our call: Demand better representation for women

We can reach parity sooner with quotas

In 2021, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) looked at EU member states and found if current trends persists then countries with legislated quotas will achieve gender balance by 2026, while those waiting for the problem to solve itself will have to wait until 2038.

Our new report released on International Women’s Day, Pursuing Parity: Examining Gender Quotas Across Electoral Systems, explores the different quota mechanisms through which gender parity can be achieved, examining the benefits and the potential drawbacks of the approaches. It then assesses the ease and success of quota implementation across majoritarian and proportional voting systems. Following this, we’ve created country case studies of several of the approaches that explore the mechanisms in action.

Pursuing Parity illustrates how implementing gender quotas and moving to a proportional representation voting system (PR) can help speed up the progress of achieving gender parity in elected bodies around the world and at home.

Find out more about Pursuing Parity

Read more posts...

Where is Single Transferable Vote used in the UK?

Whilst First Past the Post is used for Westminster elections in the UK, it’s not the only way we elect people to office in the UK. Other voting systems have a long history and are...

Posted 29 Mar 2024

MPs and Peers recognise the benefits of STV when they are the voters