Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over

Today marks the anniversary of the first female appointment into the British cabinet, but statistics show women's progress in politics has been poor.

E-mail-sign-up Donate

 

.

Today marks the anniversary of Margaret Bondfield’s symbolic appointment into the British cabinet, a milestone for women everywhere trying to smash the glass ceiling into politics.

Margaret-BondfieldHowever, statistics from the Labour Women’s Network (LWN) show that progress for women in politics has been minimal and slow:

• There has still only ever been one woman prime minister. Forty-two men have had the job since 1715;

Only five of the current 23 cabinet members are women;

• Currently there are 505 male MPs in parliament and 145 women;

• Eighty-one of those 145 women are Labour.

Margaret Bondfield was MP for Northampton and appointed Minister for Labour in 1929 by Ramsay MacDonald. She was formerly assistant general secretary for the Shop Workers’ Union and also formed the first all-female trade union (the National Federation of Women Workers).

She was the first woman member of the TUC executive and went on to become the first female president of the TUC general council.

It is understandable if a country who suffered under Thatcher may live in fear of a repeat if another woman reaches the top. However, time and time again, research suggests that a gender balance is more efficient in areas like business, so why are these rules not applied in politics also?

The Labour Women’s Network was set up in 1988 to train, mentor and advise Labour women wanting to be selected for parliament. Graduates of their flagship parliamentary programme have entered parliament at every election since 1992.

 


See also:

Women, politics and the crisis: We cannot ignore gender in politics 16 Jan 2012

Women’s History Month Profiles: Margaret Bondfield 6 Mar 2011

Women bear over two-thirds of Coalition’s tax rises and benefit cuts 6 Dec 2010


 

Joining the Labour Women’s Network costs only £15 and can be done here; if you are a man and want to support the LWN, you can do so here.

 


Sign-up to our weekly email • Donate to Left Foot Forward

21 Responses to “Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over”

  1. Michael

    Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over – http://t.co/KwArJB7x

  2. Allison Johnstone

    Today marks 83 years of female cabinet ministers, but have women been represented enough? @LFFKatie reports: http://t.co/j4FuyIau

  3. Holly Bower

    Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over – http://t.co/KwArJB7x

  4. Lucy Michael

    Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over – http://t.co/KwArJB7x

  5. bethan.lant

    Today marks 83 years of female cabinet ministers, but have women been represented enough? @LFFKatie reports: http://t.co/j4FuyIau

  6. Political Planet

    Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over: Today marks th… http://t.co/WJ47VcsE

  7. Christopher Snowdon

    Stupid article from @leftfootfwd about how Thatcher scares people off from voting for women. I've left a comment. http://t.co/nh8EFBGb

  8. Christopher Snowdon

    “It is understandable if a country who suffered under Thatcher may live in fear of a repeat if another woman reaches the top.”

    Sorry, what?!?!

    I won’t bother to argue with view that Thatcher was evil – I suppose that is taken as read round these parts – but I do argue with your glib assertion that it is *understandable* that a person would attribute this supposed evil to her gender. Would you say that it is understandable that people would not want to vote for a Jew having lived under Disraeli or that it is understandable that people would not vote for a black man having lived under Mugabe?

    Her gender has nothing to do with it and only someone hopelessly ensnared in identity politics could think otherwise.

    However, if it shames the Labour party to be 37 years behind the Conservatives in electing a woman leader then an all-woman shortlist has to be the answer. Cooper, Harman and Abbot would be the front-runners. Good luck with that.

  9. Patricia Clewell

    Stupid article from @leftfootfwd about how Thatcher scares people off from voting for women. I've left a comment. http://t.co/nh8EFBGb

  10. Vanessa Wheeler

    Stupid article from @leftfootfwd about how Thatcher scares people off from voting for women. I've left a comment. http://t.co/nh8EFBGb

  11. Anonymous

    One of the reasons Tzipi Livni in Israel couldn’t form a coalition was the memory of the leadership of Golder Meir, whose term was and is viewed by a significant section of the population as disastrous.

    It’s the same kind of reaction – it’s understandable. It’s not *justified*, but that’s *not the same thing at all*. You don’t just jump that shark, you equipped it with a laser beam first. Identity politics IS your party’s politics.

  12. Victoria Freeman

    Stupid article from @leftfootfwd about how Thatcher scares people off from voting for women. I've left a comment. http://t.co/nh8EFBGb

  13. Lee Chalmers

    I have to agree with Chris below that it was ridiculous to say “It is understandable if a country who suffered under Thatcher may live in fear of a repeat if another woman reaches the top.” I don’t ever hear people saying that we should never have another male PM becasue they dislked Tony Blair. We need to cut out this reduction of women to being one kind of person, all the same. Even having that statement in this piece has that effect.

  14. Alan Cowan

    Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/blYziIiy

  15. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn't over http://t.co/5XnWRSzD

  16. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn't over http://t.co/FsTnq79z

  17. Robert Bowers

    Today marks 83 years of female cabinet ministers, but have women been represented enough? @LFFKatie reports: http://t.co/j4FuyIau

  18. Look Left – Racism at Euro 2012, the Diamond Jubilee and remembering Margaret Bondfield | Left Foot Forward

    […] however, Parliament remains male-dominated, as statistics from the Labour Women’s Network (LWN) show: Since 1715, there has still only ever been one woman prime minister, compared to 42 men; only five […]

  19. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn't over http://t.co/5XnWRSzD

  20. Katherine Dunne

    Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over http://t.co/YkthNpS8

  21. Government must not ignore poor employment stats for women | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: • Women have been in the British cabinet for 83 years, but the fight for representation isn’t over 8 Jun […]

Leave a Reply