23 APRIL 2018

  • UK Sex and Power Index reveals men dominate in every sector
  • Shocking scale of inequality & slow progress prompts calls for quotas

Leading gender equality charity, the Fawcett Society, has today revealed the extent of male-dominated power positions in 2018. Its new Sex and Power Index reveals that positions of power in every sector of our society are dominated by men.

On the eve of the unveiling of the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square – suffragist Millicent Fawcett – campaigners are calling for practical solutions, including the use of quotas, to speed up change and overcome persistent barriers to progress.

The Index reveals that women make up just:

  • 6% of FTSE 100 CEOs
  • 16.7% Supreme Court Justices
  • 17.6% of national newspaper editors
  • 26% of cabinet ministers
  • 32% of MPs

Sam Smethers said:

“When we see this data brought together it is both shocking and stark – despite some prominent women leaders, men haven’t let go of the reins of power and progress is painfully slow. Equality won’t happen on its own. We have to make it happen. That is why we are calling for time-limited use of quotas and making all jobs flexible by default.

As we mark 100 years of the first women getting the vote by putting the first woman in Parliament Square it is no coincidence that male-dominated decision-making has to date commemorated so few of the great women in our history. We have to correct this imbalance for future generations and we have to ensure that women today can overcome those persistent structural barriers which hold all of us back. This moment in our history is not about yesterday, it’s about tomorrow.”

Caroline Criado Perez said:

“If Millicent Fawcett were alive today, I wonder what she’d think about how far we’ve come. The past hundred years for women have been momentous and have left us more liberated than ever before - at least in law. 

But equality on paper isn’t the same as equality in real life - and as the dismal figures outlined in this report reveal, we still have a long way to go here. If we are ever to get to our final destination, we have to stop pretending that the path to true equality is out of our hands. To get to where we are today, we’ve had to fight every step of the way. And we have to carry on fighting now. 

Power is never given freely. Liberty is never achieved by chance. It is achieved by design. So, let’s start designing it.”

The Index shows that women make up:


  • 26% of cabinet ministers, 34.5% of those who attend Cabinet
  • 50% of the Shadow Cabinet
  • 32% of MPs
  • 33% of select committee chairs
  • 26% of peers in the House of Lords
  • None of the metro mayors and just 11% of combined Authority representatives
  • 17.5% of Police and Crime Commissioners
  • 17% of council leaders and 33% of councillors in England

Public Life

  • 16.7% Supreme Court Justices
  • 26% of University Vice Chancellors
  • 38% of Secondary School Headteachers
  • 31.6% of NHS Trust chairs


  • 17.6% of national newspaper editors
  • 74% of top selling magazines but just 10% of current affairs
  • 16.4% of film Directors
  • 30.9% of Producers
  • 32.3% of casts of British films
  • 91% of prostitute characters & 91% of housekeeper roles
  • 65% of theatre audiences but only 39% of casts and 28% of playwrights


  • 6% of FTSE 100 CEOs
  • 9.8% of executive roles
  • 27.7% of all directorships

Art galleries & statues

  • 21.7% of Chairs of art galleries and museums
  • 34% of Directors
  • 2.7% of statues

Where there is data available we know Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women, or disabled women, are even less likely to be represented. BAME women make up approximately 7% of the UK’s total population – but just 4% of MPs. There are only two women MPs in the Commons who identify as disabled people. There are no BAME women at the top of FTSE 100 organisations.

The pace of change must be accelerated to achieve equal power for women. The report calls for:

  • A time-limited use of quotas across public bodies and the boards of large corporate organisations, enabled by law. For other organisations who cannot countenance quota systems, set targets and publish an action plan.
  • The Government should legislate for all roles to be advertised on a flexible working basis, unless there is a business reason for them not to be, and more roles available on part-time or job-share basis.
  • The immediate implementation of Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010 to gather candidate monitoring data, extended to include local government.
  • Across the board, arts funding should be tied to a proactive policy of gender equal representation in arts, culture and memorials, which aims to redress this imbalance and sets a target of gender equal representation. About the Sex and Power Index

The Sex and Power series was first published by the Equal Opportunities Commission in 2003 and then for 5 years up to 2015 the ‘Counting Women in Coalition’ collected and collated data on women’s representation across different areas of public life.

The 2018 Sex and Power Index updates statistics collected in the previous Sex and Power reports, with a few additions. In the case of the House of Commons this updates the 2015 edition; much of the rest of politics was covered in 2014; and the wider decision-making world was last addressed in 2013. Comparisons in this report make clear which year we are using as our baseline.

In 2018, the centenary year of (some) women first getting the vote in parliamentary elections, and to coincide with the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square, the Fawcett Society has now brought together a new edition of that Sex and Power dataset. It uses publicly available data, some newly collated and some drawing from existing work.

Read the 2018 Sex and Power Index report here
Download the press release here

For more information or to set up interviews contact :

[email protected] / 07876 378 733
[email protected] / 07801 979 987