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A Gender Audit of Statistics: Comparing the Position of Women and Men in Scotland

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Chapter Two Participation in Political and Public life

Women and men participate in political and public life in a number of ways, from holding office as political representatives to exercising citizenship rights such as voting and to taking part in community and voluntary organisations. While those holding political office and occupying leadership positions at different levels of government are most visible in decision-making processes which influence policy making, people in senior and management positions across a wide range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations also exercise power and influence in shaping society. This chapter therefore outlines differences in patterns of participation in political and public life between women and men. It also examines evidence concerning women's and men's perceptions of politics and government.

2.1 Policy context

2.1.1 Political representation

The aim of changing the gender balance of political representation by increasing women's representation in political institutions has gained support in recent years through the efforts of a number of political parties to introduce measures to do so. In 2002 the UK government passed the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act which enabled political parties to adopt positive measures to improve the gender balance of candidates. Any further change in this direction, however, remains a matter for political parties rather than for government action.

In legislating for change to the electoral system for local government in Scotland, through the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, the Scottish Executive also took account of the need to widen access to political representation at council level. In the elections in 2007 a Single Transferable Vote system of proportional representation for local government will be in place, and it is expected that this will result in a greater diversity of representation in terms of which parties candidates will represent, though this unlikely to produce greater diversity in terms of gender or ethnicity, for example, without parties consciously adopting strategies to ensure diversity in selection of candidates. The Widening Access to Council Membership Progress Group has made recommendations on how council membership might attract a wider range of people, though it acknowledges that changes may be longer term. These recommendations include the need for lead bodies to consider issues of diversity, and for equalities to be mainstreamed into councillor's role descriptions (Scottish Executive, 2005a).

2.1.2 Public appointments

The Scottish Executive is committed to encouraging a more diverse range of people to apply to serve on the boards of Non-Departmental Public Bodies ( NDPBs). As a result of the Public Appointments and Public Bodies etc (Scotland) Act 2003 a separate Commissioner for Public Appointments in Scotland ( CPAS) has been established. The role and responsibilities of the Commissioner are to regulate and monitor the ways in which ministerial appointments are made to the boards of Scotland's public bodies, with one of the Commissioner's key functions being to promote diversity in public appointments. To achieve this the Commissioner and the Scottish Executive, the Scottish Parliament and other organisations are drawing up a diversity strategy.

2.1.3 Decision-making in public, private and voluntary sector organisations

In general these areas remain outside the scope of government action, with the exception of the judiciary. The Scottish Executive has made a commitment to putting the Judicial Appointments Board on a statutory basis, with consultation about this ongoing at the time of writing. The intention of this is to reaffirm commitment to an open and fair appointments process to replace the traditional practice of taking informal soundings. Similarly, the Scottish Executive has given a commitment that recruitment procedures for the lay justice role will be rigorous and transparent.

2.1.4 Participation in community and voluntary activity

The Scottish Executive recognises that while volunteering is essentially an individual activity, government has an important role to play in enabling a strong culture of volunteering to develop. In setting out its Volunteering Strategy (Scottish Executive, 2004) it particularly stressed the need for volunteering to include those from under-represented groups such as unemployed, disabled and poor people. In particular the strategy emphasised measures to facilitate the greater involvement of young people in volunteering.

2.1.5 Consultation with women's organisations

One of the key aims of the Scottish Executive Equality Unit is to facilitate consultation with disadvantaged and excluded groups, and a range of mechanisms have been created to facilitate consultation between government and women's organisations, ethnic minority organisations, disabled people's organisations, lesbian and gay organisations, and faith organisations. With respect to women's organisations consultations have taken place with, initially the Women in Scotland Consultative Forum set up in 1998, and subsequently with the Scottish Women's Convention, which was established in 2003.

2.2 Women and men in political and public life

Key points:

  • In 2006, 14% of MPs for Scottish constituencies in the UK Parliament were women and 86% were men.
  • In 2006, 39% of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament were women and 61% were men.
  • In 2006, 29% of MEPs from Scotland were women and and 71% were men.
  • In 2003, at the most recent council elections, 22% of those elected as councillors were women and 78% were men.
  • At the beginning of 2007, 19% of local council leaders were women and 81% were men, while 13% of local authority Chief Executives were women and and 87% were men.
  • In 2006, 34% of appointments to Scottish Executive sponsored non-departmental public bodies were women and 17% of chairs of such bodies were women.
  • In 2005, women and men participated in voluntary activities in very similar proportions, 21% of women and 19% of men.

2.3 Key data Sources and possible uses of data

2.3.1 Key sources of data

The key sources of data on the gender balance in political representation are the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) and the Equal Opportunities Commission ( EOC). Data on voting patterns and attitudes to politics are available from MORI surveys and the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Data on volunteering are available from the Scottish Household Survey, although the questions have varied over time, and the data for different years are therefore not strictly comparable. In the past many of these data have not been routinely collated and published. For example, the 2003 COSLA survey of councillors was the first of its kind, providing a more detailed analysis of the background of councillors and of various aspects of their council work, including a gender breakdown of many of these factors. Data on public appointments are currently published only in very brief summary form, and more detailed statistics have been available only occasionally. Selected data from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey and Scottish Household Survey have been published in gender disaggregated form, and there is more scope for gender analysis of such survey data. Some of the data in this chapter was specifically requested from the Scottish Executive for the report.

2.3.2 Possible uses of data

It is to be anticipated that the introduction of the Gender Duty will result in regular publication of data on the gender balance of political representation, and of senior decision makers in government departments, local government, the judiciary, key public sector workforces, and public appointments. Data on political representation can inform the strategies of political parties to change the gender balance of representation (though this remains outside the scope of government action), and also provides the wider context within which public bodies might seek to promote gender equality, and in particular how they might address gender imbalances in senior decision-making and managerial positions in, for example, the civil service, the judiciary, and local government. Responsibility for appointments to non-departmental public bodies ( NDPBs) lies with government departments, who might further consider how to promote gender equality in public appointments given the disappointing lack of progress to date, while NDPBSs themselves might use such data to inform their equality schemes both with respect to the gender composition of employees and with respect to responsiveness to service users. Thus, for example, bodies concerned with transport should seek to demonstrate their understanding of gender differences in access to and use of transport (as outlined in Chapter Ten) and in the way that they do their business, carry out consultations, etc, that the views of women transport users are represented equally with those of men. Furthermore, to the extent that public bodies (especially government departments and local government) can influence private and voluntary sector organisations and encourage them to also promote equal opportunities through such means as contract compliance, they can play a role in encouraging such bodies to improve data on gender balance and/or require this as a condition of funding.

2.4 Political representation

This section provides information on the gender balance of MPs in the UK Parliament, MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, MEPs in the European Parliament, and councillors in local authorities. Table 2.1. below indicates the current levels of women's and men's share of political representation in the UK, Scottish and European Parliaments. In all three legislatures women remain under-represented in proportion to population as a whole, though their share of representation is significantly greater in the Scottish Parliament.

Table 2.1 Political representation of men and women in the UK, Scottish and European Parliaments, 2007

Women

Men

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Members of Parliament

8

14

51

86

Members of the Scottish Parliament

50

39

79

60

Members of the European Parliament

2

29

5

71

Source: Table derived from data published in ,EOC (2007) Sex and Power: Who runs Scotland?.
http://www.eoc.org.uk/PDF/sexandpower_scot_2007.pdf

Since the partial enfranchisement of women in 1918 (all women aged 30 and over) and full enfranchisement on the same terms as men in 1928 (all women aged 21 and over 2), women's level of representation in the UK parliament has consistently been at a low level, though there was a marked increase in 1997.

Table 2.2 Scotland and the UK: percentage of women MPs returned at general elections, 1964 - 2005

Year

Scotland

UK

Column percentages

1964

7

5

1966

6

4

1970

3

4

1974 (February)

4

4

1974 (October)

6

4

1979

1

3

1983

3

4

1987

4

6

1992

7

9

1997

17

18

2001

15

18

2005

15

19

Source: Burness, C (2005) Scottish Women in Formal Politics since 1918. ( Compiled from Craig, F W S , (1989), British Electoral Facts, 1832-1987; Times Guides to the House of Commons, and House of Commons Library, Research Paper 05/33, General Election 2005).

The gender balance of representation varies considerably by party, both within the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament, as Tables 2.3 and 2.4 show.

Table 2.3 Scottish MPs in the UK Parliament by sex and party, 2006

Party

Women

Men

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Scottish Labour

7

17

32

83

Scottish National Party

0

0

6

100

Scottish Liberal Democrats

1

9

11

91

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

0

0

1

100

Speaker

0

0

1

100

Total

8

14

51

86

Source: Table derived from data published in ,EOC (2006a) Public Policy Scottish Statistics Desktop Research

Table 2.4 Members of the Scottish Parliament by sex and party, 2006

Political party

Women

Men

Number of MSPs

% of party

Number of MSPs

% of party

Conservative and Unionist

3

18

14

82

Green Party

2

29

5

71

Labour

28

56

22

44

Liberal Democrats

2

12

15

88

SNP

9

36

16

64

Scottish Socialists

4

67

2

33

Others

2

29

5

71

All parties

50

39

79

61

Source: EOC (2006b) Who Runs Scotland 2006
http://www.eoc.org.uk/PDF/Who_runs_Scotland_report2006.pdf

Within formal political institutions the gender balance is best within the Scottish Parliament, with this level of women's representation in the Parliament being achieved after a long campaign for increased women's representation. This campaign entailed positive action in selection procedures, cross party agreements on women's representation, and a commitment to equality of opportunity by the Scottish Constitutional Convention. Equality of opportunity was subsequently endorsed as a core principle for the new Parliament (for an account of the campaign to increase women's representation, see Breitenbach and Mackay, 2001). Though the Parliament has achieved a high level of women's representation, there have as yet been no minority ethnic MSPs elected to it.

In the past the gender balance in political representation tended to be better at local government level than at Parliamentary level, though women remained under-represented. Since 1999, however, the Scottish Parliament has exhibited a much better gender balance than has local government in Scotland. Table 2.5 below indicates the percentages of women councillors from 1992 to 2003. Prior to local government reorganisation in 1996, women's representation was higher at District Council level than at Regional Council level. Since reorganisation of local government into unitary authorities, women's representation has maintained the level previously reached within District Councils, but this has not been increased in elections subsequent to 1995, when the new unitary authorities were first elected.

Though the overall gender balance of councillors in Scotland is 22% women and 78% men, the balance varies considerably across political parties and across local authorities. As table 2.5 below indicates the Liberal Democrat party has had the highest proportion of women councillors since 1994, with this reaching a third (33%) of all Liberal Democrat councillors in 2003. The SNP has increased its share of women councillors in the same period, while Labour's share of women councillors has declined since 1995. This is in contrast to the parties' performance in the Scottish Parliament, where Labour and the SNP are substantially ahead of the other main parties with 56% and 36% per cent respectively of their MSPs being women, while women make up only 12% of Liberal Democrat MSPs.

Table 2.5 Percentage of women councillors, Scotland, 1992-2003

1992(1)

1994(2)

1995

1999

2003

Column percentages

Labour

21

16

24

22

19

SNP

29

18

20

24

25

Liberal Democrat

29

23

29

32

33

Conservative

162327

23

23

Independent/other

19

16

13

16

15

Total

22

17

22

23

22

1. District Council election
2. Regional Council election
Source :COSLA and Scottish Executive (2003) Scotland's Councillors
http://www.cosla.gov.uk/attachments/publications/cllrsurvey2003.pdf#search=%22Scotland's%20councillors%202003%22

The gender balance of councillors ranges from 33% women, and 67% men in Aberdeen and East Dunbartonshire to 5% women and 95% men in Inverclyde, as table 2.6 below shows.

Table 2.6 Profile of Scotland's councillors by sex and Local Authority, 2003

Local Authority

Percentage

Total number of councillors

Male

Female

Aberdeen

67

33

43

Aberdeenshire

74

26

68

Angus

76

24

29

Argyll and Bute

86

14

36

Clackmannanshire

89

11

18

Dumfries and Galloway

79

21

47

Dundee

76

24

29

East Ayrshire

81

19

32

East Dunbartonshire

67

33

24

East Lothian

83

17

23

East Renfrewshire

85

15

20

Edinburgh

81

19

58

Eilean Siar

90

10

31

Falkirk

84

16

32

Fife

73

27

78

Glasgow

71

29

79

Highland

74

26

80

Inverclyde

95

5

20

Midlothian

83

17

18

Moray

85

15

26

North Ayrshire

70

30

30

North Lanarkshire

87

13

70

Orkney Islands

90

10

21

Perth and Kinross

76

24

41

Renfrewshire

75

25

40

Scottish Borders

74

26

34

Shetland Islands

86

14

22

South Ayrshire

80

20

30

South Lanarkshire

78

22

67

Stirling

82

18

22

West Dunbartonshire

73

27

22

West Lothian

84

16

32

Source: COSLA and Scottish Executive (2003) Scotland's Councillors
http://www.cosla.gov.uk/attachments/publications/cllrsurvey2003.pdf#search=%22Scotland's%20councillors%202003%22

The 2003 survey of councillors in Scotland carried out by COSLA ( COSLA/Scottish Executive, 2003), also indicated a number of gender differences in the characteristics of councillors. While the majority of councillors (72%) had no care responsibilities, women were more likely than men to have such responsibilities (35 % compared to 26%). Women councillors were less likely than their male counterparts to be working full-time (19% compared to 24%) and more likely to be working part-time (17% compared to 8%). Women were somewhat more likely to be full-time councillors (29% compared to 25%), while male councillors were more likely than women councillors to be retired (20% compared to 15%).

Of those councillors in employment, in terms of their occupational background, male councillors were more likely than their female counterparts to be in managerial/executive occupations (31% compared to 27%) and in professional/technical occupations (31% compared to 29%). Women councillors were significantly more likely than male councillors to be employed in education (16% compared to 10%), and in administrative and clerical positions (20% compared to 7%). Women councillors were also more likely than male councillors to be employed in the public sector (47% compared to 42%) and in the voluntary sector (17% compared to 7%). Male councillors were also likely to be on higher incomes than female councillors, with 43% of male councillors compared to 26% of women councillors having an annual income of £20,000 or above. Despite women councillors' lower occupational status and income levels, they tended to be better educated than their male counterparts, with 45% of women councillors having a degree compared to 33% of male councillors. Male councillors were more likely than women councillors to have no qualifications, 14% compared to 5%.

The COSLA survey also indicated that 9% of councillors reported having a disability or long-term illness, with male councillors slightly more likely than female councillors to report this - 9% compared to 7%. Of all councillors in Scotland, in 2003 only 14 were minority ethnic groups, representing just over 1% of all councillors. No gender breakdown was given for minority ethnic councillors.

As at other levels of government, any measures to increase women's representation at local government level remain the responsibility of political parties. It is believed that the new system of proportional representation to be introduced for local government elections in 2007 will facilitate the election of representatives with a more diverse range of backgrounds. Generally speaking, systems of proportional representation are regarded as creating a more favourable context for the election of women representatives, but do not in themselves guarantee this. Furthermore, different systems of proportional representation are more effective than others in facilitating this outcome. To what extent the new system for local government elections in Scotland will create an opportunity to change the gender balance in representation remains to be seen.

2.5 Attitudes towards and perceptions of politics

Gender differences in levels of representation in political institutions in Scotland have been outlined above. This section looks at evidence of voting behaviour and perceptions of and attitudes towards politics and government, and asks whether there are gender differences in these.

Table 2.7 below indicates that over time there has been a variation in the proportions of men and women supporting the main political parties. Polling data indicates that in Scotland, in the period 1974 to 1997, the Labour party has tended to attract the support of the largest groups of men and women. Between 1974 and 1989, more men than women supported the Labour party, while in 1992 more women than men did so, and in 1997 men and women were equally likely to support Labour. For the earlier part of this period more women than men supported the Conservative party, though the proportions of both men and women doing so have declined, with in 1997 14% of men and 14% of women supporting the Conservatives. Support for Liberals has grown over this period with women being more likely than men to support Liberals, apart from 1992. Support for the SNP has fluctuated considerably over this period with its highest point being in 1974, followed by 1992. In the earlier part of this period male support for the SNP was greater than female support, though more recently this gender gap appears to have been closing. For example, in 2003 women were more likely than men to vote for the SNP, with 18% of women doing so compared to 15% of men (though this gap is not statistically significant) (Bromley et al, 2006). Generally speaking, there were more observable gender differences in party support in the 1970s, while more recent data suggests that there is very little difference between women and men in their support for political parties.

Table 2.7 Party support by sex, Scotland, 1974-97

Percentage supporting party

1974

1979

1984

1989

1992

1997

Conservative

Male

21

31

25

22

24

14

Female

27

38

29

22

28

14

Labour

Male

38

40

52

50

35

52

Female

36

36

46

43

39

52

Liberal etc*

Male

5

8

12

4

13

11

Female

10

10

15

9

9

16

SNP

Male

33

18

10

22

26

21

Female

22

13

10

25

21

17

Sample size

Male

550

306

373

464

377

322

Female

488

332

456

457

439

376

Source: Scottish Election Surveys, MORI. Reproduced from Brown, A, McCrone, D and Paterson, L, (1998) Politics and Society in Scotland.
Note: * 'Liberal, etc' includes Liberal, Liberal/ SDP Alliance, and Liberal Democrat

Table 2.8 Support for constitutional preferences, 1974-97

Percentage in favour of:*

1974

1979

1984

1989

1992

1997

Independence

Male

25

8

29

40

28

29

Female

19

6

22

28

18

24

Home Rule

Male

47

55

41

45

46

51

Female

42

53

47

53

53

51

Sample size

Male

554

350

422

509

445

352

Female

621

375

540

545

512

346

Source: Scottish Election Surveys, MORI. Reproduced from Brown, A, McCrone, D and Paterson, L, (1998) Politics and Society in Scotland.
Note: * 'Independence' refers to options which mentioned that word or 'separation'. 'Home rule' refers to any other type of directly elected assembly or Parliament.

Table 2.8 above charts the changing levels of support for independence or for an assembly or Parliament among men and women. This indicates that support for independence has fluctuated, and was at its lowest level in 1979 and at its highest in 1989 for both women and men. Men have consistently been more likely than women to support independence. Attitudes towards an assembly or Parliament have also changed over time, with support being at its highest level in 1979 for both women and men. Though support declined after 1979 it has risen again, with 51% of both men and women supporting this in 1997. The proportions of men and women supporting 'Home Rule' options have in general been much closer than those supporting independence.

Despite men's apparently greater support for independence as indicated through survey evidence between 1974 and 1997, more recent evidence suggests that women are becoming more supportive of devolution and/or independence. As Table 2.9 below indicates, in 2003, more women than men said they would feel sorry if the Scottish Parliament was abolished, 56% of women compared with 44% of men, while more men than women said they would feel sorry if Scotland become independent and left the UK, 53% of men compared with 45% of women.

Table 2.9 Attachment to the Scottish Parliament, 2003

Percentage who would feel sorry if….

….the Scottish Parliament was abolished

…Scotland became independent and left the UK

Sample size

Men

44

53

659

Women

56

45

849

Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Bromley, C, Curtice, J and Given, L, (2005) Public attitudes to devolution: the first four years.
http://www.natcen.ac.uk/natcen/pages/publications/P7457PDF.pdf

A shift in attitudes towards the powers of the Scottish Parliament and in the gender balance of these is also in evidence, as Table 2.10 below indicates. In 1999 and 2001 men and women were more or less equally likely to say that the Scottish Parliament should have more powers, with over two-thirds of both men and women saying this in 2001. By 2003, however, only 54% of men said this compared to 62% of women.

Table 2.10 Powers of the Scottish Parliament, 1999, 2001, 2003

Percentage who say the parliament should have more powers

1999

2001

2003

Men

57

69

54

Women

56

68

62

Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Bromley, C, Curtice, J and Given, L, (2005) Public attitudes to devolution: the first four years.
http://www.natcen.ac.uk/natcen/pages/publications/P7457PDF.pdf

Following the first election for the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the Scottish Household Survey found that the proportions of women and men reporting that they voted in the recent elections were very similar, as Table 2.11 below indicates.

Table 2.11 Whether reported voting in elections in May and June 1999 by sex

Percentage that reported voting

Adult population aged 18 or over

Male

Female

Total

Voted in local election

71

73

72

Voted in Scottish Parliament

71

73

72

Voted in European election

45

46

46

Base numbers

2,141

2,825

4,966

Source: Scottish Household Survey, July - October 1999. Scottish Executive (2001a) Men and Women in Scotland: A Statistical Profile.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/mnw-00.asp

Attitudes towards the importance of voting exhibit some gender differences, as Table 2.12 below indicates. Though around half of the population regarded it as 'very important' to vote in elections for the Scottish Parliament and for the House of Commons at Westminster, women were more likely to say this about the Scottish Parliament than about the House of Commons (49% compared to 47%), while for men the opposite was the case (44% compared to 52%). Correspondingly, more women than men thought it 'very important' to vote in Scottish Parliament elections (49% compared to 44%), while more men than women thought it 'very important' to vote in House of Commons elections (52% compared to 47%).

Table 2.12 Percentage saying it is 'very important' to vote in elections, 2004

Scottish Parliament

House of Commons

Sample size

All

47

49

1,514

Men

44

52

624

Women

49

47

890

Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Bromley, C and Given, L (2005) Public Perceptions of Scotland after Devolution.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016846.pdf

The tendency for women to stress the importance of voting for the Scottish Parliament does not appear to reflect a greater level of knowledge and interest in the Scottish Parliament. As Table 2.13 below suggests, both more men and women reported hearing a lot about the UK government than about the Scottish Executive. A significantly higher proportion of men than women reported hearing a lot about both the UK government and the Scottish Executive, 44% compared to 27% and 37% compared to 23% respectively.

Table 2.13 Percentage saying they heard 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' about what Executive/ UK Government did over last year: 2004

Scottish Executive

UK government

Sample size

All

29

34

1,637

Men

37

44

687

Women

23

27

950

Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Bromley, C and Given, L (2005) Public Perceptions of Scotland after Devolution.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016846.pdf

The gender difference in knowledge of the activities of government at UK and Scottish Executive level was paralleled by a gender difference in the attribution of levels of knowledge of devolution. A considerably higher proportion of women than men described themselves as having a low knowledge of devolution, 24% compared to 13%, as Table 2.14 below shows. Conversely a considerably higher proportion of men than women described themselves as having a high knowledge of devolution, 26% compared to 15%.

Table 2.14 Knowledge of devolution, 2004

Level of knowledge of devolution - percentages

Sample size

Low

High

All

19

20

1,637

Men

13

26

687

Women

24

15

950

Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Bromley, C and Given, L (2005) Public Perceptions of Scotland after Devolution.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016846.pdf

There was also a gender difference in perception of how good government was at listening to people, as indicated in Table 2.15 below. Women were less likely than men to think that government was good at listening to people, whether at UK (14% compared to 17%) or Scottish Executive level (30% compared to 35%). However, both women and men were twice as likely to perceive the Scottish Executive compared to the UK government as good at listening to people, with respectively 30% of women and 35% of men thinking this.

Table 2.15 Perceptions of how good the UK government/Scottish Executive are at listening to people, 2004

Scottish Executive

UK government

Sample size

Column percentages

All

32

15

1,637

Men

35

17

687

Women

30

14

950

Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Bromley, C and Given, L (2005) Public Perceptions of Scotland after Devolution.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016846.pdf

With respect to a number of key areas of policy there were gender differences in how these were evaluated, as Table 2.16 below illustrates. While both more men and women thought health standards had fallen rather than increased, women were more likely than men to think this (52% compared to 39%). By contrast more people thought that standards of public transport had increased than thought they had fallen. Men's assessment of the increase in standards was more positive than women's, with 27% of men thinking this compared to 23% of women. Men were also more likely than women to think there had been an improvement in the general standard of living, 37% compared to 27%. Similarly, men were more likely than women to think that the economy had got stronger, with 34% of men saying this compared to 22% of women. While substantial proportions of both men and women also evaluated standards as having stayed the same, in general men tended to give a more positive evaluation of policies than did women.

Table 2.16 Evaluations of policies, 2004

% who say health service standards have

increased

stayed the same

fallen

net balance (increased-fallen)

Sample size

Column percentages

All

18

31

46

-28

1,637

Men

23

32

39

-16

687

Women

14

30

52

-38

950

% who say standards of public transport have

increased

stayed the same

fallen

net balance (increased-fallen)

Sample size

All

25

41

21

4

1,637

Men

27

40

19

8

687

Women

23

41

22

1

950

% who say the general standard of living has

increased

stayed the same

fallen

net balance (increased-fallen)

Sample size

All

31

40

24

7

1,637

Men

37

40

20

17

687

Women

27

40

27

0

950

% who say the economy got

stronger

stayed the same

weaker

Net balance (stronger-weaker)

Sample size

All

27

29

27

0

1,637

Men

34

29

29

5

687

Women

22

30

25

-3

950

Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Bromley, C and Given, L (2005) Public Perceptions of Scotland after Devolution.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016846.pdf

Despite the gender differences in evaluations of policies, there was very little difference between men and women in their views on what should be the priorities for the Scottish Executive. Table 2.17 below indicates that similar proportions of men and women chose health, crime reduction, and education as the highest priorities. The biggest difference between men and women was in their view on the economy as the highest priority (18% compared to 14%), though this difference was not great.

Table 2.17 Priorities for the Scottish Executive, 2004

% who say the Executive's highest priority should be

improve health

cut crime

education

economy

housing

transport and environ-ment

sample size

All

27

22

17

16

12

5

1,637

Men

26

22

16

18

10

6

687

Women

28

22

17

14

13

4

950

Source: Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Bromley, C and Given, L (2005) Public Perceptions of Scotland after Devolution.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016846.pdf

As illustrated in the tables above, analysis of Scottish Social Attitudes Survey data indicates that there are some gender differences in knowledge about and attitudes to political institutions at Scottish and UK level. Given that the approach adopted to analyses of SSAS data is to establish where there are statistically significant differences and to present these in reporting, 3 it can be assumed that there are no significant gender differences with respect to attitudes towards other questions asked in the survey.

2.6 Public appointments

Public appointments are those appointments made by Ministers to Non-Departmental Public Bodies ( NDPBs), which oversee, direct or regulate implementation of legislation and policy across a range of areas. NDPBs include executive agencies, advisory bodies, health boards and other health bodies, nationalised industries and public corporations. Such bodies are subject to the new Gender Duty on public bodies, and will be required to produce equality schemes.

The composition of public bodies both in terms of gender balance, and in terms of diversity in general, has been a concern of government both at Scottish and UK levels, and various initiatives have been undertaken in recent years in order to promote a better gender balance and greater diversity in public appointments. This has included the creation of a Commissioner for Public Appointments for Scotland. As yet, however, there has been no significant change in the composition of membership of public bodies or in chairing of such bodies. Table 2.18 below illustrates the composition of public bodies for March 2006, where overall women held approximately one third of all public appointments in Scotland. The gender balance of public appointments varies considerably by category of appointment, with women's representation being highest on the Parole Board, health related bodies and Justice of the Peace Advisory Committees, and being lowest in nationalised industries and public corporations (of which there is only one, Scottish Water). Figures for the representation of minority ethnic people and disabled people are also included in the table, though no gender disaggregation of these is available. Minority ethnic people and disabled people make up 3% and 2% of public appointees respectively.

Table 2.18 Public appointments, by category of NDPB, Scotland, March 2006

Number of chairs

Number of members

Total of chairs and members

% women

Minority ethnic appoint-ees

Disabled appoint-ees

Male

Female

Male

Female

Executive NDPBs

26

5

193

98

322

32

8

6

Advisory NDPBs (excluding JP Cttees)

11

1

83

30

125

25

5

6

Justice of the Peace Advisory Committees

25

6

10

13

54

35

1

0

Nationalised Industries

2

0

7

2

11

18

0

0

Public Corporations [Scottish Water]

1

0

5

1

7

14

0

0

NHS Bodies (excluding NHS Boards)

6

3

44

34

87

43

6

2

NHS Boards

12

2

58

46

118

41

2

3

Parole Board for Scotland

1

0

9

14

24

58

0

1

Total

84

17

409

238

748

34

22

18

Source: Table compiled from data provided by the Public Appointments Unit, Scottish Executive

In 2001, there were approximately 1,200 public appointments sponsored by Scottish Executive Ministers, of which women made up 32%, as Table 2.19 below indicates. Since 2001, there has been a reduction in the number of public appointments, which now stand at a total of approximately 750. As this reduction in the number of public appointments has been taking place, the overall gender balance in public appointments has remained relatively stable.

Table 2.19 Proportion of women holding public appointments, Scotland, 2001-2006

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Total number - chairs and members

1,238

966

903

846

956

748

Women as % of total

32

34

35

34

34

34

Source: Table compiled from data provided by the Public Appointments Unit, Scottish Executive

Over the same period, however, there has been a decline in the proportion of chairs held by women, as Table 2.20 below indicates. Women currently hold 17% of such posts, compared to having held almost a quarter (23%) in 2003. There has also been some fluctuation in the gender balance of public bodies in different categories, particularly health related bodies.

While the Scottish Executive has continued to affirm its commitment to encouraging people from under-represented groups, including women, to apply to serve on boards of public bodies in Scotland, such encouragement is not yet reflected in any change in the overall gender balance of public appointments.

Table 2.20 Women as % of chairs and members, NDPBs, Scotland, 2002-2006

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Column percentages

Executive NDPBs

Chairs

22

24

24

24

16

Members

35

36

34

35

34

Advisory NDPBs (excluding JP Cttees)

Chairs

15

15

17

7

8

Members

31

28

26

25

28

Justice of the Peace Advisory Cttees

Chairs

16

19

19

19

20

Members

43

46

47

52

55

Nationalised industries

Chairs

0

0

0

0

0

Members

10

10

10

11

25

Public Corporations

Chairs

0

0

0

0

0

Members

17

14

14

14

17

NHS Bodies (excluding NHS Boards)

Chairs

32

31

33

33

33

Members

50

47

50

41

45

NHS Boards

Chairs

27

27

13.3

13.3

13

Members

29

36

33.8

37.8

49

Parole Board for Scotland(1)

Chairs

-

-

-

-

0

Members

-

-

-

-

61

Total

Chairs

22.7

23

20.2

18.7

17

Members

36

37

35.4

35.7

37

1. Between 2002 and 2005 the Parole Board was classified as an Executive NDPB, and is included in this figure. From 2006 it has been reclassified as a tribunal.
Source: Table compiled from data provided by the Public Appointments Unit, Scottish Executive.

2.7 Decision-making in public, private and voluntary sector organisations

As noted above, with the exception of the judiciary, the gender balance of decision-makers across public, private and voluntary sector organisations remains outside the scope of government action as such. However, public bodies bound by the Gender Duty will be expected to address gender inequalities in their decision-making bodies and at chief executive and senior management levels and to adopt strategies to increase women's representation where appropriate. With respect to the private sector, there are a range of policy measures in place which aim to facilitate women's greater participation in paid employment and to reduce the impact of interruptions to employment for childbirth and childcare or care for other dependants on women's pay and promotion prospects. These include provision for maternity and paternity leave and pay, flexible working arrangements, and childcare provision. Good practice by employers in the provision of equal opportunities and flexible working arrangements have been widely encouraged by government, and it might be expected that this would have an impact across all sectors, public, private, and voluntary. The extent to which women participate in decision-making bodies and at senior levels in all these sectors is an important marker of the degree of gender equality in decision-making, policy making and implementation within key areas of Scottish society. Currently data across these areas are patchy, and for effective monitoring to take place new data need to be consistently collected and published. In this section, we outline the current gender balance in the judiciary, and within a range of public sector professions.

The Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland was established in 2002 to provide a new, more open and inclusive means to appoint new members to the judiciary. The creation of an independent appointments board for the judiciary is intended to ensure both transparency in the appointments process and greater diversity in the composition of the judiciary. In March 2006, women made up 6% of Senators of the College of Justice, and 14% of Sheriffs (for a detailed breakdown of the gender balance in the judiciary, see Chapter Eight on Crime and Justice). In recent years women have been increasing their share of judicial positions, but this remains low, despite the increasing proportion of members of the legal profession who are women.

This pattern of women's under-representation in senior positions is reflected also across key areas of decision-making including the civil service, local government, police forces, education, and the health service. In 2003, women made up 48.9% of all civil service staff in the Scottish Executive, and 31% of Senior Civil Service Staff. In 2006, only one Head of Department post within the Scottish Executive was held by a woman, while the other 8 posts were held by men. Table 2.21 below shows that in 2006 women were the majority of staff within most government departments and agencies in Scotland. Of Scottish Executive staff, women made up 51% and men made up 49%. At Senior Civil Service level within the Scottish Executive, women made up 35% of staff and men made up 65%.

Table 2.21 Civil service staff in post, 2006

All staff

Senior Civil Service Level

Total

M

F

% F

Total

M

F

% F

Scottish Executive (excl agencies)

4,309

2,129

2,180

51

177

115

62

35

Communities Scotland

442

165

277

63

5

1

4

80

Fisheries Research Services

316

192

124

39

2

2

0

0

HM Inspectorate of Education

203

71

132

65

6

5

1

17

Office of Accountant in Bankruptcy

111

41

70

63

0

0

0

-

Scottish Agricultural Science Agency

153

70

83

54

1

1

0

0

Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency

319

259

60

19

1

1

0

0

Scottish Public Pensions Agency

208

99

109

52

1

1

0

0

Student Awards Agency for Scotland

150

73

77

51

1

1

0

-

Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator

24

12

12

50

0

0

0

-

Social Work Services Inspectorate

69

23

46

67

2

1

1

50

Scottish Building Standards Agency

28

18

10

36

1

1

0

0

Mental Health Tribunal Scotland

52

20

32

62

0

0

0

-

Transport Scotland

206

140

66

32

5

4

1

20

Courts Group

41

18

23

56

2

2

0

0

General Register Office - Scotland

251

114

137

55

1

1

0

0

National Archive for Scotland

158

87

71

45

1

1

0

0

Scotland Office

51

22

29

57

6

5

1

17

Source: Scottish Executive

Within many areas of public sector employment, women make up the majority of employees, but remain under-represented at senior level. They are also under-represented at senior levels within male dominated areas of employment such as the police and higher education. Table 2.22 below provides a summary of the gender composition of senior staff in key areas of the public sector. It should be noted, however, that some of the percentages in this table represent very small numbers, and thus percentages can change significantly with even a single appointment. The gender composition of key public sector workforces is discussed in more detail in Chapter Four on the Labour Market and in the relevant topic chapters.

Table 2.22 Women and men in senior positions in selected sectors, Scotland, 2007

Numbers

Percentages

Women

Men

Women

Men

Local authority council leaders

6

26

19

81

Local authority chief executives

4

28

13

87

Senior police officers

5

38

12

88

Judiciary (high court judge and above)

4

30

12

88

Head teachers in secondary schools

76

286

21

79

University vice-chancellors

3

10

23

77

Health service chief executives

5

16

24

76

Source: EOC (2007) Sex and Power: Who runs Scotland 2007?
http://www.eoc.org.uk/PDF/sexandpower_scot_2007.pdf

The position at the beginning of 2007 illustrated by Table 2.22 above represents an improved share of such positions compared with several years ago. For example, in 1996 women made up 7% of Head Teachers in secondary schools; only one council had a woman leader, and there were no female council chief executives; women made up 4% of senior police officers; and there was one woman principal of a higher education institution (see Engender , 1997).

Data on the position of women in decision-making within business in Scotland are particularly limited, with there being no regular reporting of the gender balance of directorships in top companies, unlike that carried out for the UKFTSE 100 companies by academic researchers (see e.g. Singh and Vinnicombe, 2003). In 2005, women's share of executive and non-executive directorships in the FTSE 100 companies was 11% ( EOC, 2006b). In 1997 it was reported that there were 3 women on the boards of the top 20 Scottish companies, while around 7% of the Scottish membership of the Scottish Institute of Directors were women.

Data on trade union membership and leadership is similarly patchy. In the mid 1990s women made up around 38% of all trade union members in Scotland, and women held about a third of all seats on the STUC General Council (Engender, 1995, 1997). In 2000, 35% of male employees and 36% of female employees in Scotland were members of trade unions 4. By 2005 this had changed to 31% and 37% respectively, suggesting that in the interim period women were more likely to join trade unions than were men.

Statistics on the voluntary sector workforce produced by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations ( SCVO) for 2005 indicated that women made up 75% of the paid workforce in the voluntary sector, and men made up 25%. Previous research into the voluntary sector workforce in 1996 found that women were under-represented at managerial level, and that men were more likely to be employed by large well-funded voluntary organisations than were women and likely to be better paid (see Engender, 1997), but this research does not appear to have been updated. Figures from Volunteer Development Scotland indicate that in 2003, 68% of volunteer managers were women and 32% were men ( EOC Scotland, 2006a), and this suggests that women are still under-represented to some extent at managerial level.

2.8 Participation in community and voluntary activity

Data from the Scottish Household Survey carried out in 1999 and early 2000 suggests that there is very little difference in the propensity of men and women to be involved in their community or in volunteering. The same proportions of men and women (71%) indicated that they were involved in their local community in some way, and there were no significant differences in the levels of involvement indicated by men and women, as Table 2.23 below indicates.

Table 2.23 Level of involvement in local community by sex, Scotland, 2000

Adult population

Percentages

Male

Female

Total

A great deal

5

6

5

A fair amount

19

22

21

Not very much

46

43

45

Not at all

29

29

29

Base

2,950

3,839

6,789

Source: Scottish Household Survey. Scottish Executive (2001b) Scottish Household Survey Bulletin, No 5.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/shs/docs/00063-00.asp

A much lower proportion of people indicated that they acted as volunteers, 19% of all adults in 1999/2000, and 20% of all adults in 2005, with the overall gender difference being very small, as illustrated in Tables 2.24a and 2.24b below. The greatest gender difference in volunteering was exhibited by the 35-44 age group in 1999/2000 and by the 25-34 age group in 2005, with women being more likely to be volunteers than men. This could reflect the fact that many people in these age groups are likely to be at the stage of family formation and may have young children, which would be likely to have an impact both on men and women's work patterns and working hours, and women's involvement in organisations concerned with childcare or school children, but it would require further research to establish whether this was the case. While the overall levels of volunteering are very similar for both 1999/2000 and 2005, there appears to have been a decline in volunteering by people in the 45-59 age group, and an increase in volunteering by older age groups.

Table 2.24a Proportion of adults who volunteer by age and sex, Scotland, 1999/2000

Column percentages

Adult population

16 to 24

25 to 34

35 to 44

45 to 59

60 to 74

75 plus

Total

Male

Yes - volunteer

16

15

20

22

18

11

18

Base

492

1,028

1,130

1,479

1,308

494

5,931

Female

Yes - volunteer

18

16

25

25

19

10

20

Base

631

1,402

1,381

1,664

1,731

1,040

7,849

All adults

Yes - volunteer

17

16

23

23

19

10

19

Base

1,123

2,430

2,510

3,144

3,039

1,534

13,780

Source: Scottish Household Survey (1999 and first 6 months of 2000). Scottish Executive (2001b) Scottish Household Survey Bulletin, No 5.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/shs/docs/00063-00.asp

Table 2.24b Proportion of adults who volunteer by age and sex, Scotland, 2005

Column percentages

Adult population

16 to 24

25 to 34

35 to 44

45 to 59

60 to 74

75 plus

Total

Male

Yes - volunteer

15

13

22

20

21

13

19

Base

4,214

Female

Yes - volunteer

18

18

26

20

24

13

21

Base

5,842

All adults

Yes - volunteer

17

16

25

20

22

13

20

Base

10,156

Source: Scottish Household Survey. Scottish Executive (2006) Scotland's People, 2005.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/08/03090800/0

Among adults who volunteer, there are some gender differences in the types of organisation for which they volunteer. Data from the 2003/04 Scottish Household Survey indicated that men were more likely to volunteer in sporting organisations (28% of males compared to 9% of females), while women were more likely to volunteer in health organisations (13% of females compared to 8% of males), or children's organisations (10% of females compared to 4% of males) (Scottish Executive, 2005b).

Table 2.25 Types of organisations adults volunteered for in last 12 months, 2005

Column percentages

Male

Female

All

Voluntary organisation, charity or community group

26

31

29

Church, Religious or Faith Based Group

19

24

22

Sports Club

25

8

15

Youth Group (e.g. Scouts, Guides, youth clubs, etc)

11

11

11

Caring organisation e.g. helping older people, people with disabilities

8

12

10

Public service (e.g. school, hospital, police or local government service)

7

9

8

Children's Group (e.g. playgroup, mothers and toddlers groups)

5

10

8

School Board or Parent Teachers Association

3

8

6

Arts or Cultural Group

5

4

4

Professional Society or Organisation

5

3

4

Community Council, Social Inclusion Partnership or Community Planning Partnership

5

2

3

Social Club

4

3

3

Groups involved in education, e.g. adult literacy

3

3

3

Heritage group, e.g. local history group, amenity society, etc

3

2

3

International development/overseas aid e.g. Oxfam, Christian Aid

3

3

3

Tenants group, housing association or residents association

2

3

3

Environmental group

3

2

2

Campaigning organisation e.g. pressure group

3

1

2

Neighbourhood watch scheme

3

2

2

Political party

2

1

2

Animal welfare groups

1

1

2

Trade union

2

1

1

Black or minority ethnic group

1

1

1

Credit union

1

0

0

Don't know

1

0

1

Base

790

1,224

2,014

Source: Scottish Household Survey. Scottish Executive (2006) Scotland's People, 2005.
Note: Columns add to more than 100% since multiple responses allowed.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/08/03090800/0

Table 2.25 above, showing data from the 2005 survey (questions on volunteering were changed for the 2005 survey and responses are not strictly comparable with the previous year's data) indicates a similar pattern of gender difference, with men being much more likely than women to volunteer for sports organisations and women being more likely than men to be involved in caring organisations and children's organisations, as well as religious or faith based groups.

There were also differences between women and men in the type of voluntary work carried out for the organisations for which they volunteered, as Table 2.26 below shows. Women were more likely than men to be involved in fund-raising activities - 29% of female volunteers compared to 24% of male volunteers, while men were more likely to be on committees - 29% of male volunteers compared to 23% of female volunteers, or to be involved in education, training or coaching - 17% of male volunteers compared to 10% of female volunteers.

Table 2.26 Types of activities carried out while volunteering by sex, 2005

Percentages

Male

Female

All

Raising money

24

29

27

Committee work

29

23

26

Generally helping out

24

26

26

Helping to organise or run events or activities

24

24

24

Doing whatever is required

21

22

22

Providing advice or assistance to others

16

14

15

Office work or administration

13

12

13

Education, training or coaching

17

10

13

Providing direct services (e.g. meals on wheels, doing odd jobs)

8

9

9

Visiting, buddying or befriending people

5

9

7

Providing transport or driving

6

5

5

Campaigning

4

3

4

Counselling

3

4

4

Representing others

5

2

3

IT support

4

1

2

Advocacy

2

2

2

Other

10

7

8

None

3

3

3

Base

785

1,215

2,000

Source: Scottish Household Survey. Scottish Executive (2006) Scotland's People, 2005.
Columns add to more than 100% since multiple responses allowed.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/08/03090800/0

In 2005 the majority of volunteers of both sexes spent relatively short amounts of time volunteering on a monthly basis, less than an hour or up to 5 hours for 45% of male volunteers and 47% of female volunteers (Scottish Executive, 2006). A further 16% of male volunteers and 20% of female volunteers spent from 6 to 10 hours a month on volunteering. The gender difference between those spending upwards of 10 hours a month on voluntary work were not significant, though overall men tended to spend more time on average than did women.

Though there is little difference in the overall proportions of women and men who say they are involved in their local community, or who are involved in voluntary work of some kind, there appears to be a gender difference in charitable giving. Data from the Scottish Household Survey for 1999/2000, indicated that 75% of women made donations of various types to charities compared to 67% of men, as illustrated in Table 2.27 below.

Table 2.27 Charitable donations by sex, 2000

Type of charitable donation

Percentages

Male

Female

Total

No Donations

33

25

29

Immediate donations (door to door/ street collections/ TV appeals/ shop counters)

51

55

53

Donation through purchase (charity shop/ raffle tickets/ subscription or membership)

28

35

32

Planned donation (payroll deduction/ standing order)

12

13

13

Donation in any kind (clothes to a charity shop)

23

35

29

Base numbers

2,948

3,839

6,787

Source: Scottish Household Survey (1999 and first 6 months of 2000). Scottish Executive (2001b) Scottish Household Survey Bulletin, No 5.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/shs/docs/00063-00.asp

The data detailed above suggest that there is little difference in the overall proportions of women and men in the population who contribute their time and skills to community and voluntary work. Age and socio-economic status, however, have an impact on the likelihood of people being involved in voluntary work, with young people, and people on low incomes, being less likely to get involved (Scottish Executive, 2004). Where gender differences occur these appear to reflect gender differences that occur more widely in society, such as the division of labour between men and women in childcare and other forms of caring, and the differences in participation in sport, for example. It is not possible as yet to track in detail changes in patterns of involvement in community and voluntary activities, since the Scottish Household Survey data currently available relates to only a short period, and changes to questions in the survey mean that data from different sweeps of the survey are not fully comparable. Nevertheless, the available data suggests that gender differences in participation in community and voluntary activities would merit further investigation, and in particular the question of whether there is a link between the types of organisations and organisational roles that women and men typically engage in and routes into public appointments and/or political activity which might lead to candidacy for election.

A further factor which may influence the capacity of individuals to participate in political and public life and to inform themselves about public issues, is their access to the internet. Men are more likely than women to have access to the internet, and to spend more time using it. In 2006, 55% of men had access to the internet compared to 48% of women (for further discussion of access to and use of the internet see Chapter Five on Income and Wealth, where internet access is considered under the heading of other assets to which individuals may have access).

2.9 Summary

This chapter has looked at statistical data on gender differences in levels of political representation, in attitudes towards and perceptions of politics, at the gender balance within decision-making bodies and in senior management positions across a range of areas, and at evidence of participation at community level and in volunteering. The statistical evidence underlines the continuing gender imbalance in political institutions and in decision-making bodies in public life. Though women continue to be under-represented changes are slowly taking place, and the numbers of women holding office or prominent positions in public life in Scotland is increasing. While there do not appear to be any significant differences between men and women in their propensity to vote, there are some differences in their degree of engagement with and trust in political institutions. Levels of involvement in their community and in volunteering are similar for men and women, though there are some differences in the types of organisations that men and women volunteer for. This suggests that as citizens men and women are equally active, but that their patterns of activity differ in some respects.

Of these areas, few have been the focus of in-depth research in Scotland, with the exception of barriers to women's political representation. More recently research has been carried out on the impact of increased levels of women's representation in the Scottish Parliament on politics and policy-making, as part of the Economic and Social Research Council's research programme on Devolution and Constitutional Change (see Mackay et al, 2003; Mackay, 2006). Findings to date present a complex picture. However, the combination of new institutions and the presence of substantial proportions of female MSPs and ministers has contributed to more open and inclusive decision-making and the reprioritisation of traditionally-defined women's issues such as child care. Women's organisations report increased access and opportunities to participate, as compared to pre-devolution. Action against domestic abuse presents the most obvious example of the concrete impact of women politicians and women's organisations on policy outcomes. Work on gender budgeting provides another example (McKay et al, 2002; Mackay et al, 2005).

The issue of the low level of women's political representation in elected bodies generated a considerable volume of academic research in Scotland, the UK and in many other countries in the 1990s, and such research has indicated that a number of factors are responsible for the low level of women's representation. It has been argued that both supply and demand factors have influenced levels of women's representation, including barriers such as the responsibilities of family life, the tendency of women to wait to be asked to stand for office rather than to put themselves forward, discrimination by selection panels, and political culture (Brown, 1996; Brown et al, 1998; Mackay, 2001). In general, research has concluded that policies to improve the motivations and resources of marginalised groups, including women, would improve their opportunities of being selected to stand for office, but also that demand side factors are important, such as rules and procedures governing selection and political culture (see Brown et al, 1999). There is thus a complex interplay between different factors, and these may operate to inhibit people from coming forward long before selection processes take place. Furthermore, it has been argued that in order to counteract the male bias in selection procedures, positive action measures are needed to ensure that more women candidates are selected for winnable seats. Such arguments have led to arrangements such as women only shortlists, twinning, and zipping being debated and used by several political parties in Scotland and the UK, though this has often proved controversial (see Mackay, 2003). The notable increases in women's representation in the 1997 general election and in the 1999 Scottish Parliament election provide evidence that such measures have an impact. The passage of the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act by the UK Parliament in 2002, which enabled positive action measures to be taken by political parties without fear of contravention of sex discrimination legislation, represented an endorsement of the need for such measures, though any initiatives to increase women's representation remain a matter for individual political parties to decide. Mackay' analysis of party recruitment strategies in the run up to the 2003 election suggests that current levels of women's representation in the Scottish parliament may be vulnerable in the future (Mackay, 2003).

With respect to the gender balance in decision-making bodies more generally, findings from a review of research on women and decision-making in Scotland (Myers, 1999) noted the lack of research and routine monitoring of the position of women in decision-making bodies across a range of areas, and expressed the hope that the establishment of the Scottish Parliament might have a significant impact both on women's access to decision-making bodies and on data gathering and research. It remains the case, however, that while there has been some improvement in the public availability of relevant data, most notably in the gender breakdown of senior positions in public sector professions, this data is still not routinely collated and published. In certain areas such as business, trade unions, and the voluntary sector, there appears to be have been neither an improvement to data collection nor new research. Research on the position of women in the professions (Kay, 2001) also noted that there were considerable difficulties in gathering data which were patchy across professions, and that existing data indicated that women were consistently under-represented in senior positions.

With respect to public appointments specifically, research was commissioned by the Scottish Executive to look at ways of improving diversity in public appointments in Scotland (Reid-Howie Associates, 2003). Among other things this research was prompted by the recognition that there was a continuing gender imbalance in public appointments, and that there was a lack of applications from under-represented groups. Consequently the research focussed on the process for making public appointments and provided guidance on good practice. Within the case studies of public appointments, it was found that half of those interviewed thought there were no major barriers for women in the public appointments process, or that those barriers had been addressed, though, as the authors note, this was not borne out by statistics. The research also found that there was support among equalities organisations for target-setting with respect to public appointments, for publicised targets and for monitoring of these, though it was acknowledged that it was not Scottish Executive policy to set 'quotas'. The evidence presented in this gender audit report suggests that there has been no further change in the gender balance of public appointments since the research report was published.

In general, then, research into gender differences in participation and political life in Scotland has been relatively limited, and has tended to concentrate on political representation and the impact of women's representation. In many areas of decision-making in public life data remain patchy, and are not routinely published in any detailed form, though this is in principle possible in certain areas, for example, data on civil service staff, the judiciary, and public appointments. It is apparent from the data included in this chapter that the Scottish Household Survey and the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey both provide valuable sources of gender disaggregated data relevant to participation in public and political life and to attitudes towards this, and that there is potential for further analysis of these data. Further analysis of these datasets would therefore enhance understanding of differences and similarities in men's and women's attitudes to politics and in their behaviour as citizens. In addition to this, new research would be required in order to investigate the gender balance in decision-making in key spheres such as business and trade unions. For public bodies who must comply with the Gender Equality Duty, it will be essential that they gather and publicise data on the gender balance of decision-making in governing bodies and on their workforces, including the gender balance in senior positions.

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