Friday, February 10, 2006

Women & Politics

There's a fascinating discussion emerging over on Greg Staples' site on the efficacy of women being proportionally represented in politics.

He's honestly wondering what people's thoughts are on the so-called "under-representation" of women in Parliament.

Several good points have been raised. One commenter said that more women than men are involved in the crucial "behind the scenes" work of political campaigns. Another, Ruth, who took up the thread on her own blog, said "all these battle-axes that are out busy fighting some stupid, non-existant [sic] war against the patriarchy can sit on it and rotate." Uh... ahem.

When it comes to gender, there is no restriction on who can and can't run for office in this country. It is no secret that women are disproportionately represented when it comes to voting left; in other words, more vote left than the 50% or so of the population they make up. Simon Fraser University (look for the section entitled Gender & Voting - 2006 Campaign) did an analysis of voting trends, and noticed towards the end of the campaign:
  • 36% of women and 40% of men said they would likely vote Conservative
  • 21% of women said they would vote NDP, compared to 16% of men
  • 27% of women were willing to support the Liberals, and 25% of men said the same
  • These results indicate a net movement of 8% of women away from the Liberals, with 3% going to the Conservatives and 5% to the NDP.
That's 48% of women (and 41% of men) voting against the barely right-wing Tories. Presumably, the remainder were either undecided or voting for the smaller parties (or for the left-wing Bloc in Quebec). Know what else is interesting? Of all the parties, the ones with the highest percentage of women candidates were the Marxist-Leninist (36.8%) and Communist (31.4%). Of the parties with a full 308 candidates, the Liberals had 24.3% and and NDP 31.2%.

The same site also indicates that the Conservatives had the lowest percentage of women candidates at 11.3% - and that's among all parties, big and small. There is definitely a perception that right = anti-woman, but I can't for the life of me figure out why.

If that statement is accepted, then it has to be granted that left = anti-man. Why not turn the argument on its head and ask why men are so under-represented on the left?

This is a bigger debate than I have time for at the moment, but it does warrant further attention.

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