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Scotland's shame: men still dominate women in positions of power

This news post is 9 months old

Will women ever be truly equal?

Men continue to hold two-thirds of positions of power in Scotland and are significantly over-represented in 33 of 38 areas of public life, according to a feminist charity.

Figures from a new Engender survey show that 474 women are missing from key positions of power in the country.

In its report, Sex and Power in Scotland 2023 published today, the charity charts the number of women in key decision-making positions and highlights the significant void that exists in women’s representation and distribution of power in Scotland.

Examing a range of areas across public life – including politics, health, sport and media – the report identified 3381 positions of power in Scotland, with only 1219 (just over a third) held by women.

Men continue to hold two-thirds of positions of power in Scotland and were significantly over-represented in 33 of the 38 areas of public life examined- with only five areas demonstrating at least 50% of women in leadership positions.

This is despite women making up 51% of Scotland’s population, 49% of its labour market, and girls routinely leaving school with higher levels of educational attainment on average.

Engender’s previous Sex and Power reports in 2017 and 2020 looked to track progress towards gender equality over time. Its 2023 research has found evidence of some improvement in areas including political institutions, within the health sector and limited areas across media and culture.

However, the rate of change remains disappointingly slow. Women still account for only 27% of council leaders, 22% sheriffs, 26% of university principals, 18% of major newspaper editors and just 7% of CEO’s of Scotland’s top businesses.

Catherine Murphy, executive director of Engender said: “These positions of power hold huge sway in determining what our society and culture look like. They dictate who gets heard and who has a seat at the table when key decisions are made.

“These figures clearly show that how the world is shaped around us in Scotland- how resources are distributed, services designed and priorities identified- is still disproportionately decided upon by men.

“The fact that so many women are ‘missing’ from these positions of power means that major decision-making is taking place without women’s leadership and high-level input. The exclusion is even more pronounced for women from minority groups including women of colour and disabled women.

“Tracking who sits in positions of power is vital to shine a light on the extent of these inequalities and helps us better understand where priority action is needed.”

“We urgently need a major increase in diverse women leading our institutions in Scotland. Government, Public Sector, Business and our Media and Culture sectors need to step up their efforts if we are to make meaningful progress, or we risk failing another generation of women.”



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Lok Yue
9 months ago

Given that women are more likely than men to be primary care givers they are more likely to be out of the workplace than men. Personal thought i know but I believe mothers are better caregivers in respect of their own children than hired help

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