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University of Bath

Barriers to women entering Parliament and Local Government – rapid evidence review

This study aims to identify barriers preventing women's participation in government, and gather evidence as to successful policies for increasing participation.

Professor Sue Maguire has been commissioned by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) in the Department for Education (DfE) to undertake a rapid evidence review, which includes two broad objectives. To identify:

  • Barriers to women’s participation in local and national government, and
  • Evidence of policies and practices, sometimes referred to as Positive Action Mechanisms, which have increased their levels of participation.

The project will include critically reviewing and synthesising evidence on:

  • The barriers to women’s participation in national and local politics and their relative impact;
  • The appropriateness of the knowledge and information available to women when making decisions about becoming involved in politics;
  • The impact and degree of success of interventions targeted at encouraging greater participation;
  • The role of party membership, and
  • The impact of greater numbers of women becoming politically involved on the proportions progressing to senior decision-making roles.

This research is required to help in the development of GEO policy options to address the underrepresentation of women in local and national government in the UK. The evidence review will be used alongside qualitative research (for example looking at common career pathways for women MPs and to understand strategies used by current MPs to overcome barriers), to create an information document for political parties on the subject of increasing women’s political representation.

Research team

  • Professor Sue Maguire, IPR