Lack of women in political staff, warns Women 5050 campaign

Written by Tom Freeman on 16 November 2016 in News

Female representation among spads needs focus, argues Women 5050 campaign

Fewer than a quarter of political special advisers in the Scottish Parliament's history have been women, according to new research by the Women 5050 campaign, which seeks gender parity in public life.

According to the data released by the campaign only 13 government special advisers in the history of the parliament have been women, six under the Labour/Lib Dem administrations, seven under the SNP.

The first parliamentary session led by Donald Dewar had none.


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Current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the first woman to hold the post, has appointed a third of her special advisers as women.

Opposition parties have similar ratios, with Scottish Labour staff currently 36 per cent female, slightly more than the ratio of female MSPs.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said more must be done to redress the balance.

"We are not complacent and must continue to do what we can to increase those numbers and ensure greater equal representation both behind the scenes and in public facing roles.”

Women 5050 campaign for equal representation in Parliament, councils and public bodies, but Dugdale said "we cannot try and achieve that while at the same time neglecting women’s representation in backroom offices where political priorities are set and the policy decisions made which then affect all Scottish women."

Talat Yaqoob, Chair and Co-Founder of the Women 5050 campaign said: “The influencers behind the scenes are, in the main, men. We need women in these positions influencing policy and decision making.

"We have women with the interest and with the capabilities to be in these high profile positions, it is the duty of Government and all political parties to eradicate the biases and barriers that stand in their way.”

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