Women are under represented

Posted on: 23rd April 2014

I have decided to express publicly some concerns I feel about local democracy. Very sadly, insufficient numbers of women put themselves forward to be elected onto Cornwall Council. I suspect the reasons for this are complicated and some-one could do some extensive research, if they have not already! As a result, and this is obvious really, there are too few women in the Cornwall Council Chamber. Out of 123 Councillors only 29 are women – that is 23.5%. Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming men for this but I fear that the lack of women there does not encourage other women to come forward. As a result, if you would like to invite me to a group you attend to talk informally about being a Councillor or even if any individuals want an informal chat, do let me know.

Before any men, assuming men are still reading, think “that’s not fair” I should clarify, I am not saying I will only attend women only meetings or will not have an informal chat with men interested in the role but I suppose I am saying that as a woman, on Cornwall Council, I should be doing something to say, “women can do this!”

You might be thinking “why is she saying this now”, after a year in the Chamber? Well, some of you will know that 10 people form a Cabinet for Cornwall Council and it is them that have a greater say/ influence over what happens in Cornwall. Again, I’m not saying that is wrong, if every decision needed 123 of us to discuss and decide I don’t think anything would ever happen! The trouble is that the Cabinet formed with 2 women and 8 men, not surprising given the numbers on the whole council. Now, one of those women has resigned and that really does worry me. Having worked in very male dominated management teams, it can be challenging for women to operate comfortably and whilst she maybe replaced by another women, the odds are against it!

So what is the point of me going on about this on a blog that not many will read? I have made my views known to leaders of the Council and suggested some ways that the vacancy could be opened up to more of the women on the council without getting too hung up with political groups they come from (that is not me bidding to go in the Cabinet or saying that a women should be selected regardless of ability). I am genuinely concerned that, if we end up with 1 women in the Cabinet, working closely with an all male Senior Management team, it does not encourage the women of Cornwall to stand for election and that a lone female will likely have some tough times.

Well that is a bit of personal reflection shared and hopefully not as inane as what I had for breakfast – the reason I have been reluctant to embrace social media fully!