We shed light on the invisible women

Tabloid Rectangle

We have good news for activists on the eve of the election.

Our previous blog in our views not shoes campaign on the invisible women in the election, looked at the coverage of female politicians compared to the coverage of leaders’ wives, the emphasis on appearance and the ways in which women’s issues have generally been marginalised in the run up to the election.

Now we’ve taken a look at the coverage of the Fawcett Society during the election campaigning.

According to our researchers, Fawcett has received generally good coverage: our research and campaigns have been cited in both the Guardian and the Telegraph this week. This includes the Society’s work on women and the economy, media coverage of women in the general election, the impact of cuts on women and women’s representation in parliament.

This positive coverage and the capacity for Fawcett’s voice to be heard suggests willingness on the part of media, from both left and right of the ideological spectrum, to engage in public discussion about the need for women’s voices to be heard and for women’s interests to be represented.

We have flagged up the way we talk about women, exemplified by supporter Sheelagh Stewart’s observation of the way in which women are framed: ‘he is a leader, she is bossy. He is dynamic, she is pushy’. The media have also reported the way in which women are economically disadvantaged as 88 per cent of cuts have disproportionately targeted women.

There has also been thoughtful reflection in the press as to some of the partisan reasons why women are not standing as MPs, again informed by work from Fawcett:  ‘It isn’t a lack of women who would be interested in coming forward and being MPs – it’s the parties and the way that they select candidates. Women face an uphill battle to be picked by their own parties.’

What this tells us perhaps is that media coverage is nuanced and that the work of activists and organisations is crucial in reminding everyone of the importance of women’s representation in coverage and in Parliament. Observing the press acknowledge, at least in some quarters, that women have, and should have, a political voice can only be encouraging as we head into the election.

The Fawcett Society in the news

1. How can we get more women into top jobs?;  Education, mentoring and fighting bias will all play a role in closing the gender gap, according to our panel.  The Guardian, Monday May 4.

“We still find versions of the long-observed language problem for women,” says Sheelagh Stewart from the Fawcett Society. She cites a few examples, such as “he is a leader, she is bossy. He is dynamic, she is pushy.”’

2. General election 2015: a campaign full of women but not about them;  While female politicians feature more heavily than ever before, the air war between the main parties shows this election battle is run by men, for men.  The Guardian, Friday May 1, Anne Perkins.

“But women in politics is not the same as a campaign around women’s issues. And of what might be called a women’s campaign, there is almost no sign at all. As the Fawcett Society reports, women are all but invisible.”

“According Fawcett Society research, 88% of the cuts have fallen on women.”

3. Meet the 21st century suffragettes fighting for parity in Parliament.  Almost a hundred years and 25 general elections after women got the vote, groups of determined campaigners are fighting to finish the job started by the suffragettes. telegraph.co.uk, Friday May 1. Olivia Rudgard.

“It was at a Counting Women In event that Mayer stood up and made her announcement. This campaign, which pushes for equal representation for women at all levels of government, is run by women’s rights charity the Fawcett Society.

“Dave Ward, of the Fawcett Society, agrees that women are desperate to be MPs. “It isn’t a lack of women who would be interested in coming forward and being MPs – it’s the parties and the way that they select candidates. Women face an uphill battle to be picked by their own parties.””

Based on research by Deirdre O’Neill (University of Huddersfield) Heather Savigny (University of Bournemouth) and Orlanda Ward (UCL)

 

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