The Constitution Unit


Women in British politics: progress, pitfalls and prospects

Co-Badged with the UCL Policy & Practice seminar series, this event took place on 7 March 2024.

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The 2019 general election marked a historic high for women in the UK Parliament. Following the election, there were 220 female MPs in the Parliament, comprising over a third of the total seats. Yet, despite important progress, women remain underrepresented relative to their male peers, especially in more senior positions. Moreover, women politicians continue to receive gendered abuse and intimidation of various kinds, especially via social media. This panel discussion, which took place on the eve of International Women’s Day, included a former MP and leading scholars discuss the historical progress, contemporary pitfalls and future prospects for women in British politics.

Meet the speakers

Antoinette Sandbach is a former barrister, farm manager and politician who was elected as a North Wales region Member of the Welsh Assembly at the May 2011 election, and subsequently elected Member of Parliament for Eddisbury in Cheshire at the 2015 general election. She served as an MP from 2015 to 2019, initially as a Conservative and later as a Liberal Democrat. She has been a strong advocate for improving representation of women in the workforce, women's rights and female representation in Parliament. 

Dr Emily Harmer is Senior Lecturer in Media in the Department of Communication and Media, Liverpool University, and Co-Director of DigiPol: Centre for Digital Politics, Media and Democracy. She has published extensively about legacy and online news media coverage of UK elections and the online othering and harassment of women in public life, including the book Women, Media and Elections: Marginalisation and Representation in British Politics (2021) and (as co-editor) Online Othering: Exploring digital violence and discrimination on the web (2019).  

Dr Sofía Collignon is Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University. She is an expert in the study of candidates, elections and parties, and in gendered violence against political elites. Her article “Increasing the cost of female representation? The gendered effects of harassment, abuse and intimidation towards Parliamentary candidates in the UK” (co-authored with W. Rüdig) was selected as the best paper published in the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties in 2021.  

Farah Hussain is a PhD researcher at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London. Her research focus is the experience of Muslim women in the Labour Party. She was also a Labour Party local councillor in the London Borough of Redbridge from 2014-22 and has experience of working in regional government and in parliament.

Chair: Prof Meg Russell is Professor of British and Comparative Politics and Director of the Constitution Unit in the UCL Department of Political Science and School of Public Policy. 

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