Friday, 29 January 2010

Gender balance in NE parliamentary elections

I've gone through the election candidates in the North East region for the last three general elections. Here's the breakdown by gender (there were, as far as I can tell, no non-binary candidates, but it's not possible to be certain about this). It's quite a big table.

The election winner is marked with a '*', or '**' if they were elected for the first time to that seat.

Constituency200520011997TotalPercent maleElections without women
Bishop Auckland2**213*13*4867%0
Blyth Valley03*03*12*1889%2
City of Durham2**213*14*4969%0
Durham North03*12**04*1990%2
Durham North West1*32*22*25758%0
Gateshead East and Washington West1**32*22*15655%0
Houghton and Washington East04*03*04**011100%3
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland14*21*03**3873%1
Newcastle upon Tyne Central14*04*13*21185%1
Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend14*07*15**21689%1
Newcastle upon Tyne North04*03*13*11091%2
South Shields04*14**05*11393%2
Stockton North14*13*13*31077%0
Stockton South13*13*04**21083%1
Sunderland North14*05*05*11493%2
Sunderland South14*15*13*31280%0
Tyne Bridge14*05*23*31280%1
Tyneside North12*06*04**11292%2
Percent male79%87%85%83%
Seats without women1015154
  • Only 8 of the 30 seats have had women standing at all of the last three elections. 4 of the 30 have had no women standing in any of the last three elections. There were no times where no men stood, and only 3 when only 1 stood.
  • Out of the 90 constituency-year pairs, only 8 had at least as many women as men standing (only 3 had more women than men). No constituency over the 3 years combined had at least as many women as men standing, with the closest being the 5-6 split in Gateshead East and Washington West.
  • 11 of the 90 votes were won by women, an even lower proportion. However, most of these seats are very safe and most have not changed party for decades. Currently, 16% of the seats are held by women, which is slightly fewer than expected from the numbers of candidates.
  • 4 out the 16 seats where the incumbent stepped down were won by women, all in the 2001 and 2005 elections. Given the political leanings of the region, this says a bit about Labour's selection practices, but very little about anything else.
  • The seats mostly being safe means that these results are probably not generalisable to the rest of the country. It also means that there's perhaps little point in breaking these results down by party, as the behaviour of party selection processes in largely unwinnable seats is less important than their behaviour in marginal and safe seats.

It will be interesting to see what happens at this general election. All three major parties recently committed themselves to selecting more non-default candidates by various means, though whether this will have much effect remains to be seen. Given that it's been an obvious problem for several previous elections, I'm not particularly hopeful.