Top of UK society dominated by men — Fawcett Society

By Shoshana Kedem

Every sector of UK society is dominated by men, a survey by gender equality charity the Fawcett Society has revealed.

Women make up 6% of FTSE 100 chief executives and 16.7% Supreme Court Justices, according to the so-called Sex and Power Index.

Women were found at the helm of only 17.6% of national newspapers as editors and make up 26% of cabinet ministers and 32% of MPs.

The findings come on the eve of the unveiling of a statue of suffragette Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, the first woman statue on the square.

According to the survey, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women, or disabled women, are even less likely to be represented.

BAME women make up approximately 7% of the UK’s total population – but just 4% of MPs. There are also no BAME women at the top of FTSE 100 organisations.

There are two women MPs who identify as disabled people.

Fawcett Society chief executive 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.

As we mark 100 years of the first women getting the vote by putting the first woman in Parliament Square it is no coincidence that male-dominated decision-making has to date commemorated so few of the great women in our history.

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.

Feminist activist and journalist Caroline Criado Perez said:

If Millicent Fawcett were alive today, I wonder what she’d think about how far we’ve come. 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.

Recommendations of the report

The Fawcett Society has called for gender equality quotas in public bodies and the boards of large corporate organisations to be enshrined in law.

For organisations unable to enforce quota systems it recommends targets to be set and the publication of an action plan to ensure gender equality in executive positions.

The Fawcett Society also called on the government to legislate for all roles to be advertised on a flexible working basis, unless there is a corporate reason not to, and for more roles available on part-time or job-share basis.

It also calls for the immediate implementation of Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010, for the gathering candidate monitoring data, and its extension to include local government.

Arts funding should be tied to a proactive policy of gender equal representation in arts, culture and memorials, which to address imbalance and set targets for gender equal representation, the report said.

How women are represented

Politics

  • 26% of cabinet ministers, 34.5% of those who attend Cabinet
  • 50% of the Shadow Cabinet
  • 32% of MPs
  • 33% of select committee chairs
  • 26% of peers in the House of Lords
  • None of the metro mayors and just 11% of combined Authority representatives
  • 17.5% of Police and Crime Commissioners
  • 17% of council leaders and 33% of councillors in England

Public Life

  • 16.7% Supreme Court Justices
  • 26% of University Vice Chancellors
  • 38% of Secondary School Headteachers
  • 31.6% of NHS Trust chairs

Arts

  • 17.6% of national newspaper editors
  • 74% of top selling magazines but just 10% of current affairs
  • 16.4% of film Directors
  • 30.9% of Producers
  • 32.3% of casts of British films
  • 91% of prostitute characters & 91% of housekeeper roles
  • 65% of theatre audiences but only 39% of casts and 28% of playwrights

Business

  • 6% of FTSE 100 CEOs
  • 9.8% of executive roles
  • 27.7% of all directorships

Art galleries & statues

  • 21.7% of Chairs of art galleries and museums
  • 34% of Directors
  • 2.7% of statues

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