Welsh Conservatives have ‘unconscious bias’ against female candidates, says former MS
The Welsh Conservatives have an “unconscious bias” against female Senedd candidates, according to a former Senedd Member.
Suzy Davies who stepped down at last month’s election rued the fact that only despite winning five additional seats her party had seen a drop in female MS.
Writing for Gwydir, she said that it was not a problem with the quality of candidates, saying that there were some “uninspiring male politicians” while “talented women can’t find a viable seat”.
“As well as robbing Wales of talent, and a stream of influence over policy which the Senedd can only get by maintaining its pretty good gender balance, this is miserable for the Party,” she said.
“16 and 17 year olds, the new voters, find such visibly male representation just weird. A reassuring number of our own young men members find it weird.
“The aspirational voters of Wales, our potential investors – and funders – , who live in today’s world, aren’t going to identify with this solid wall of men. And we’re already losing the women’s vote. How will doing nothing help?”
She added: “The party in Wales needs women in winnable seats, so it has to stop just shrugging its shoulders and hoping for the best – because the best will just walk away.”
In order to tackle the problem, she suggests that the party adopt rules on selecting female candidates at the top of regional lists and in winnable seats.
“Labour has been through its pain and is currently 50:50 in the Senedd so has nothing to lose,” she said.
“Plaid, seeing a backslide on equal representation in its own party, is warming to the idea. The influential McAllister report recommends it.
“And to make politics kinder – which in itself will hack away at one of the barriers women face. For all its faults, the Senedd is not the locker room that we see in Westminster. That’s because nearly half its Members have been women.
“Its main fault, of course, is that nowhere near enough of them are Conservative women.
“Monmouthshire County Council has a 50:50 Cabinet and has proposed that parties field a 50:50 slate of candidates. If this Conservative Council gets it then the Welsh party has no excuse.”