Over the New Years break I had a conversation with a (Labour) friend of mine about the number of women on David Shearer’s front bench. With two of the eight members of the front bench being women, it’s not exactly the strongest level of female representation.
I thought it would be worth taking a look at this issue from a historical perspective – is this issue better or worse than itwas under Helen Clark?
(Note that I have not looked at the caucus as a whole, or the party list. There are so many other factors in play there that it warrents it’s own post)
Women on the front bench
Obviously when Labour were in government from 1999-2008 we had a lot more seats in Parliament, and therefore more front bench seats. For comparisons sake, I’ve used the top 8 in the caucus rankings to compare it to Shearer’s front bench. If you’re interested in the raw data, you can get it here (Google Docs). Here’s what we’ve got…
So it turns out that from a historial point of view Shearer’s front bench is pretty standard. In the 1999 cabinet the Alliance’s Sandra Lee took up the number 7 slot by virtue of being her party’s deputy leader.
Women in the top 20
If we expand it to the cover the top 20 (which was mostly the size of Helen’s cabinet, and the number of MPs that Shearer has given a caucus ranking), we’re still not going to see a massive difference…
Labour, and I’d venture to say all parties, need to do better with female representation. However it would be rash to pin this problem on David Shearer – it has existed for quite some time.
There has been much said about Labour’s selection processes, and I’m sure they’re going to come under the spotlight in the upcoming organisational review. I’m really looking forward to hearing the ideas that come out of the woodwork to address some of our long-standing issues.