Underrepresented, undervalued 

Women are under-represented in positions of power and politics.

Only 1 in 4 non-executive directors and just 1 in 10 executive directors of FTSE 100 companies are women. In politics, the lack of women in Westminster is increasingly reported yet the dearth of women in local government is very often forgotten.

Our Local Government Commission report revealed that women’s representation at a local level is stagnating with virtually no change in the level of female councillors in the last twenty years. Women face many hurdles both in the workplace and in local government, including sexist comments and harassment, maternity discrimination, and inflexible working hours.  

Why does it matter?

Business: Equality is no longer an optional extra or about being on the right side of history; it is a legal requirement which brings extensive business benefits. Research has shown that fostering equality and diversity on boards brings different viewpoints, skills and experiences to improve decision-making and to contribute to the economic success of companies. 

Politics: Local councils may suffer from an unglamorous reputation, yet local governments wield a lot of power. Not only is it one of the key routes into Westminster, but our local councils spend £94 billion of our money. Decisions of national importance are being made without women round the table – the different perspectives and experiences of 50% of the country are not being heard.

Ongoing cuts to local government spending are having a hugely disproportionate impact on women, undermining access to key services such as childcare, social care and special services such as protection from domestic violence. A lack of female voices around local decision-making tables will only exacerbate this situation.

Fight for equal representation with us

Write to your local councillors

Find out who your local councillors are and write to them demanding a change to sexist attitudes in local councils. You can find all the information you need and a sample letter to use on our Local and Equal campaign page here. 

Arm yourself with the facts

Read our hard-hitting Local Government Commission Final report to get all the latest facts. Some of our key findings include: 

  • Just 4% of local councils in England have a formal maternity, paternity or parental leave policy in place for councillors
  • 33% of women councillors have experienced sexist comments from other councillors
  • Half of disabled women councillors experience discrimination
  • 80% of council seats go to incumbents at each election, making it very difficult for women and minority groups to break through. 

Read the full report here.

We frequently issue comments and research about the gender pay gap, and women in business. Read all the latest news about women in the workplace here.

Join us today

The most effective way to campaign for the end of sexism in government and business is to become a Fawcett member. Your support means we can continue to produce impactful research and campaigns that change attitudes and outdated policies. Join us now.