The growing prominence of local government through devolution has sparked heated debates about local leadership. Earlier this year, as England’s combined authority elections neared and the Northern Powerhouse project entered the media spotlight, observers rightly questioned the male-dominated nature of city-region devolution.
The Electoral Reform Society warned that it risked becoming a ‘plaything of old boys’ clubs’. This wasn’t necessarily because the devolution process itself was deliberately exclusionary by design, but because it reflected the unrepresentative nature of local government more generally.
There has since been sustained pressure on addressing the gender gap in local government. The Fawcett Society’s local government commission called for all parties to set targets for increasing the proportion of female councillors, backed by legal requirements if they made little progress.
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