Parties failing to pick women as candidates

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Indy Politics

Widespread sex discrimination by the Conservative and Labour Parties was responsible for a reduction in the number of female MPs at the last election, the Equal Opportunities Commission has concluded.

More than 80 per cent of Tory and 60 per cent of Labour female candidates surveyed said selection committees gave preference to men. In all major parties, male and female politicians had similar levels of political experience but women were less likely to be selected for winnable seats. The report concluded that it was not a shortage of women in politics that was to blame for their under-representation in Parliament.

The study, conducted byMori, found women were frequently asked how they would juggle family and political life and were asked embarrassing personal questions by selection panels. One prospective female Labour candidate was asked about the colour of her underwear when a member of the panel quipped: "Shouldn't you be wearing red?"

The report, Man Enough for the Job?, found discrimination by selection committees was worst in the Tory party, in which 81 per cent of women candidates said they were victims of discrimination.