Chauvinists Deter Women Politicians; SURVEY: Equal Opportunities Commission Finds Handicaps and Bias to Female Candidates

Article excerpt

Byline: CATRIN WILLIAMS

RESEARCH has found new evidence that women are actively discriminated against in UK politics.

More than 80 years after Nancy Astor became the first female MP, a Labour select committee remarked, "You're an excellent candidate, but we're not ready for a woman."

When asked about the colour of her underwear, another was told, "Shouldn't you be wearing red?"

Man Enough for the Job? - a crossparty survey of Parliamentary candidates - was ordered by the Equal Opportunities Commission after persistent reports that women suffer prejudice and bias in the selection process.

Now the EOC Commissioner for Wales is challenging Westminster to match the comparatively high proportion of women in the National Assembly's cabinet and debating chamber.

Teresa Rees, professor at Cardiff University's school of social sciences, said, "It is unique in Europe for having such a good gender balance.

"We are bringing a wider breadth of experience to the table. There is far more consensus, far more co-operation between politicians here than in the Houses of Parliament. …