Women, Gender and Political Leadership

By Bronwen Edwards (Third Year Politics Student)

On the 15th of May I attended the ‘Women, Gender and Political Leadership’ workshop in Birbeck university. Due to my interest in the role of women in politics, I was extremely excited to hear the papers and presentations on the day. I didn’t realise the huge range of topics that would be discussed; from business strategies to ensuring women receive promotions to the increase of female representation in Zambian politics. The opportunity to ask questions and further investigate academics ideas was an incredible opportunity and I attempted to ask as many questions as possible, it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.

During a roundtable discussion named ‘Reflections on the 2015 General Election’ many important statistics were highlighted and really made me consider the results, was it really a victory for women? Although the election results appeared to greatly benefit the representation of women with the percentage of female MPs increasing from 22% to 29%, the percentage of females within the Conservatives Government is still drastically unrepresentative. The overall percentage of female MPs across parties only appears so high due to the collection of women within Labour and the SNP. A representative from the 50/50 Parliament campaign highlighted her worries that parties may now get stagnant in the efforts to increase female representation as there is nearly 1/3 female MPs. There seemed to be agreement that Parliament still isn’t representative of the British population despite the increase.

As many topics on the day surrounded countries from all over the world; the UK, Europe, the USA, Rwanda and Zambia, it swiftly became clear that the underrepresentation of women is a global issue and not merely a UK-only one. I know my personal interest in British politics has often led me to disregard the situation in other countries thus it was a nice change to see a more global perspective.

The final presentation led by our very own Mark Bennister was both insightful and interesting. Mark’s presentation highlighted ‘the Oratory of Hillary Clinton’, with much inside information from those working closely with Hillary Clinton; Mark was able to discuss the subject in a very interesting way, I think many other analysis’ lack the information Mark was able to collate from those working with Clinton. The closer we get to the US Democrat’s Presidential selection process the more and more important analysis of Clinton’s style will become and Mark’s research perfectly fits into the analysis of Clinton.

Aside from opportunities to ‘network’ and ask questions to influential academics in the realm of women within politics, by far the highlight of my day was being able to speak to both Rosie Campbell and Rainbow Murray two academics I quoted heavily within my recent dissertation. Overall it was a really interesting day leading me to think about global problems and leading me to want to investigate a global solution to the underrepresentation of women in politics.

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