Not good enough

Electoral Reform Society
Electoral Reform Society

Posted on the 17th July 2014

As the dust settles on the Government reshuffle, you would be forgiven for thinking that the genders are now fairly represented on the front benches.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Despite this week’s high-profile promotions, the Prime Minister has failed to meet his pledge that by the end of this parliament a third of his ministers would be female.

By any measure, the government – and the Conservatives’ share of government – is still dominated by men. The closest David Cameron gets to meeting his pledge is by interpreting ‘ministers’ as those Conservatives who attend Cabinet – but even then he falls short of his own target. If his pledge is interpreted to mean all ministers, and not just those who attend Cabinet, he is a full ten points short of meeting his promise.


Cameron’s pledge: not met by any measure

  % female % Conservatives who are female Pledge met?
Cabinet 23 29 No
Attending Cabinet 24 30 No
All ministers (incl. Cabinet) 23 23 No
All ministers and whips 26 26 No


It should not be so very taxing to make one in three of your ministers a woman. Even with this reshuffle, Mr Cameron has failed to do so. While it’s heartening to see more women taking a seat at the top table of politics, the fact that the Prime Minister has failed to hit his own relatively unambitious target shows how much more effort needs to be made.

We should also question how much difference this reshuffle can make when 83% of this parliament is already behind us and the Government’s legislative programme is all but finished. Having more women in positions of power is not just about symbolism – it’s about drawing on the resources and talent of 50% of the population. When that 50% have such unequal access to real power, it is bad news for us all.

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