Publications / Reports

Women at the Top: Follow-up reports (1996-2012)

20 Jan 2012
Harriet Harman speaker to new Members of Parliament

Four reports published by the Hansard Society between 1996 and 2012 followed up the 1990 report of the Hansard Society Commission on Women at the Top. The follow-up reports presented updated data on women's representation in politics and other fields, reviewed progress on the Commission's original recommendations, and made proposals for further reforms.

The Hansard Society Commission on Women at the Top reported in 1990.

We published four follow-up reports, respectively six, 10, 15 and 22 years after the Commission reported.

Our first follow-up report, by Professor Susan McRae and published in March 1996 (not available electronically), and our 2000 report, Cracking the public sector glass ceiling, by Karen Ross, investigated the extent to which representation of women at senior levels had advanced since the Commission reported, and the extent to which the Commission's recommendations had been implemented. Presenting updated data, both reports found that women's representation had increased in many areas but that attitudes impeding women's progress at senior levels often remained stubborn.

Our 2005 follow-up report, Changing Numbers, Changing Politics?, by Dr Sarah Childs, Professor Joni Lovenduski and Dr Rosie Campbell, focused on women's representation in the political sphere, examining practices and outcomes through the lens of the 2005 general election in particular. As well as presenting updated data on women's representation in electoral politics and Parliament, this report extended the analysis to consider the substantive effects of women's increased political presence. The report made wide-ranging recommendations to parties, government and Parliament on ways of encouraging greater political representation of women. The report also included a section comparing women's political representation internationally, and featured an Afterword by Meg Munn MP, then-Deputy Minister for Women and Equality.

Our 2012 report, Politics and public life in the UK, presented updated data on women's political representation, taking into account not only the effects of the 2010 UK general election at Westminster but also the situation in the devolved legislatures and national and local government.

The 2012 report was also able to take account of the 2008-2010 Speaker's Conference on Parliamentary Representation, the establishment of which had been a recommendation of the original Hansard Society Commission report in 1990. However, in 2012 our report noted that at that time "most of the Speaker's Conference report" had still to be acted on.

Banner image: 'Leader of the Opposition speaks to new Members', by UK Parliament.

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