Genderpol at One: Some highlights from our archives

genderpolbirthdayWe here at genderpol are celebrating our one-year blogoversary this month! Our blog, which is run by the Gender Politics Research Group at the University of Edinburgh (and affiliated members), launched last April with a report on women’s political under-representation in the 2012 Scottish local government elections.

Since then, the genderpol team including Fiona Mackay and Meryl Kenny, as well as guest bloggers like Ailsa McKay, Carolyn Leckie, Kirstein Rummery and others have contributed posts on a wide range of subjects related to women, gender and politics. We also tweet on these issues at @genderpol.

As we enter our second year, we’ve decided to post a list of our top six most popular blog posts in 2012-13. Thanks for visiting genderpol & stay tuned for new blog posts in the coming weeks and months!

1. More of the Same? Women and the Scottish Local Government Elections 2012. Meryl Kenny and Fiona Mackay, 18 April 2012, [Our first and most read blog post]

Thirteen years after devolution heralded a ‘new dawn’ in women’s representation – with Nordic levels of women MSPs elected to the first Scottish Parliament – the story remains very different at local government level. Less than 1 in 4 candidates for next month’s local government elections are women, leaving the face of local politics looking decidedly ‘male, pale, and stale’. 1 in 7 council wards is contested by men only. Whilst all-women shortlists have attracted controversy both North and South of the border, the continuation of these all-male shortlists and contests largely goes unnoticed. With local government in crisis around perceived problems of legitimacy, representativeness and quality, this raises questions as to the lessons learned, future prospects, and actions needed if there is to be any real progress on women’s representation in Scotland. We argue that the time has come for tough action on women’s representation, or nothing is going to change anytime soon.

2. ….but is it Good News for Women?, Meryl Kenny and Fiona Mackay, 5 May 2012.

Political pundits are claiming the results of the 2012 local government elections are “good news” for the SNP, as the largest party in local politics, and “good news” for resurgent Scottish Labour, which held onto the city of Glasgow. We ask –  but is there good news for women’s representation?

3. Why can’t a (Scots) woman be more like a (cave) man?, Fiona Mackay, 8 November 2012

The eminent pollster Professor John Curtice has never struck us as a Neanderthal before but, in his Holyrood comment piece this week, he appears to suggest that the reason for the gender gap in attitudes to Scottish independence is that more men than women support independence because it appeals to their primal hunter-gatherer nature […]

Whereas you might have thought that caution expressed in polling might have been a rational response to uncertainty and lack of knowledge about the potential ramifications of independence. After all, there has been precious little debate to date about the impact of independence on classic “women’s issues” like childcare, the care economy, part-time work and occupational segregation, work-life balance, or women’s equal participation in political and public life. Neither has there been sustained discussion of the pros and cons of different constitutional options for tackling inequalities of income, health, educational achievement or status based on social divisions such as gender, ethnicity and class.

4. Why should women care about constitutional debates? And why aren’t their voices being heard?, Christine Bell and Fiona Mackay, 20 February 2013 [Co-organizers of the Women and Constitutional Futures: Gender Equality Matters in a New Scotland seminar]

Women’s voices and issues of gender equality and gender justice have been curiously absent from the current debates around constitutional futures in Scotland.  This relative absence contrasts sharply with their prominence in the run up to devolution in the 1990s.  We reflect upon the opportunities and challenges posed for women and gender equality by the constitutional debates in the run up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

5. Why hasn’t women’s representation ‘caught on’ in Scotland?, Meryl Kenny and Fiona Mackay, 12 February 2013

The modest levels of female representation at Westminster stand in sharp contrast to the Nordic levels of representation achieved in the Scottish Parliament. Yet, as the political representation of women continues to stall across Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, campaigners and gender equality advocates are demanding tougher action, including the prospect of mandatory forms of candidate quotas.Why haven’t gender quotas or gender-balanced representation ‘caught on’ across parties or different political levels? And what should happen next to take the issue of women’s representation forward?

6. Women, gender equality and constitutional change: lessons from Catalonia and Scotland, Meryl Kenny and Tania Verge, 21 February 2013 [Also available in Catalan HERE]

On 11 September 2012, almost 2 million people – a quarter of Catalonia’s population – rallied in the streets of Barcelona in support of independence. Early elections were immediately called to give the new Catalan parliament a clear mandate to negotiate with the central Spanish state over the right to self-determination and the governing Catalan parties set a time limit for calling a referendum in 2014, the same year that Scots will be asked if they want independence. In this blog, we explore the parallels between the Catalan and Scottish experiences of constitutional change and evaluate the implications of these processes for women and for gender equality, focusing particularly on women’s political representation.

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About genderpol

The blog of the Gender Politics Research Group, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh - and friends
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