Friday, January 14, 2005

The trouble with women

Was asked to do a pre-record for the Politics show and the subject was female representation in Parliament. The subject had been prompted by the deselection of Sue Catling who was the Conservative candidate for Calder Valley who halved the Labour majority at the last election.

I can only guess at the motivation for deselecting her but the press seem to indicate that the local party can't cope with a strong woman. There are probably many more layers to this story than have appeared in the press but some of the reporting has highlighted the way that women and men are reorted for ostensibly the same actions.

Men are assertive and women are bossy/aggressive
Men are straight talking but women are strident
Men will "storm" out of a meeting but women will "flounce"

The list is endless and most of the time people just ignore it all and are just able to carry on with the job. Even though I am not a Tory I find her deselection depressing. The BBC journalists I spoke to today said that they had visited the constituency and many members of the public stopped and commented on how terribly she had been treated. The name recognition was good and in politics that is a significant part of the battle.

So does it actually matter if parliament is testosterone heavy (and I am not talking about the wierd rumour that it is the hormone of choice for some female parliamentarians)? I think it does and some of the polling evidence shows that younger women think so too and are looking at all of the political parties with a jaundiced eye. Apparently even the Labour party cannot bask in glory because the signs are that if they lose seats then it is many of the female MPs who will be among the most vulnerable and the proportion of women among Labour MPs will almost definitely fall.