Flexible working and role models proposed to get more women in high-profile public roles

The number of women in top roles in public life could be boosted by the use of role models, positive action, more flexible working and better networking, a government report has recommended.

The Closing the Gap report highlights what needs to be done to get more black and minority ethnic (BME) women to play an active role in civic and civil life.

Only 29.3% of local authority councillors in England are women and of them, only 3% are from black and minority ethnic communities. Currently, fewer than 20% of MPs are female. There are only two minority ethnic women MPs and there has never been an Asian woman MP.

The report recommended the use of female role models that other women could aspire to, and specific measures by organisations which target BME women. More flexible arrangements to enable women to juggle caring responsibilities and participate in the community, and building networks of support for specific groups were also put forward.

Deputy minister for women and equality, Barbara Follett, said: “Getting women involved in decision making can change the face of policy making. We have seen this happen in Parliament where issues such as violence against women, maternity leave, flexible working and childcare are regularly discussed and we now have better and stronger policies in all these areas.

“Engaging more women into public life can also help ensure that public services reflect the communities they serve and maximise the skills that women can bring to these positions.”

Earlier this week, the annual Sex and Power report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that more progress was needed for women to achieve equality in public life and the private sector.

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