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2021 Election Data through a Gendered Lens

Our candidate database isn’t just useful for finding those who are running in your area on polling day, but allows us to build an image of candidate demographics in the May 2021 elections.

This year we are once again working with the Fawcett society to analyse the gender profile of candidates, who believe more needs to be done to encourage women into politics.

Our Methodology

Our candidate data is collected from ‘Statement of Persons Nominated’ reports, published by councils before an election. These reports include a list of the candidates that will be running in each election. There are a total of 21370 candidacies across GB on May 6 2021. You can read our full election briefing for May 2021

As our database is largely created by volunteers and is open to the public (and double checked by our team), we are able to gather some data on the gender of candidates, but it is not possible to determine the gender of all. Where we do have a gender applied to a candidate profile, it has either been added by the candidate themselves, their agent, or one of our Democracy Club volunteers. We assigned gender to the remaining candidates by taking the data from our candidates page which is available for download. Running candidates who did not already have a gender applied to them did so through this list of gendered names

We understand the limitations of this methodology, and ideally would not assume gender based on name, but this data allows us to understand the trends in candidate data with a gendered focus. Due to the nature of the methodology, we expect there is a margin of error albeit very small. After spot-checking the data manually, we estimate it to be no more than 1-2% depending on election type. There were around 1000 candidates we were unable to assign a gender to.

Findings

We have witnessed a drop in the percentage of women candidates compared with previous years. Across all elections in the UK, only 32% of candidates are women. Taking a closer look at the different types of elections, the London Assembly leads the way with women making up 42% of candidates. The Police and Crime Commissioner elections trail with just 22% representation of women.

The Devolved parliaments straddle the national average. 37% of candidates for the Scottish Parliament elections are women, but only 31% of candidates standing in the Senedd Cymru elections are women.

Gender Across May 2021 Elections
Election type Male Female
London Assembly 57% 42%
Scottish Parliament 63% 37%
English Local Elections 68% 32%
Senedd Cymru 69% 31%
English Mayoral Elections 76% 24%
Police and Crime Commissioner 78% 22%

The Mayoral elections do not fare much better. The 13 English mayoral elections on 6 May boast just 24% of women candidates. In Bristol, eight of nine candidates are men, while two Metro Mayors - West of England and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough - have no women candidates at all. England currently has no female Metro Mayors.

The number of single gender ballots shows a trend towards gender imbalance. We estimate there to be 180 all-male ballots across the country compared with the number of all-female ballots in the single-digits.
The longest all-male ballot across the Welsh, Scottish and London Assembly elections can be found in the Cardiff West Constituency Senedd election with nine male candidates.

Gender split by political party in the different nations also highlights a divide between England and the devolved nations. In each political party, apart from the Conservative Party, the devolved nations have a higher percentage of women candidates than their sister parties in England.

Comparing Percentage of Women Candidates by Political Party and Nation
Party Scotland Wales England
Conservative Party 24% 34% 25%
Labour Party 46% 49% 39%
Liberal Democrats 40% 31% 30%
Green Party 51% 42% 42%
Scottish National Party 47% N/A N/A
Plaid Cymru N/A 37% N/A

Focussing in on the English regions, the percentage of women candidacies continues to be low yet is consistent with the national average. The English regions (excluding London) sit between 29%-34% of candidates identifying as women. The North West and North East have the most women running for elections (34% and 33% respectively) and the East Midlands with the lowest percentage of women candidacies at 29%.

Percentage of Women candidacies in English Regions
Region Percentage of Candidacies
North West 34%
North East 33%
South Eastl 33%
Yorkshire and the Humber 32%
West Midlands 32%
East of England 31%
South West 30%
East Midlands 29%

Interestingly, the majority of independent candidates are men (23% women), yet some smaller fringe parties have high levels of women candidates. New parties, although small, boast higher numbers of women candidates with Freedom Alliance boasting ~40% of their candidates as women in Scotland, Wales, and England.

However, not all fringe parties reach these numbers of women candidates. Only 11% of Reform UK candidates are women in England, and only 16% in Wales. UKIP candidate breakdown includes 20% as women in England and Wales and 26% in Scotland.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Party candidates differ across the nation. In Wales, 50% of TUSC candidates are women whereas in Scotland and England, 33% and 27% of candidates are women respectively.

We have also used our database to look at the most common candidate first names. The David’s of the UK take the top spot with 542 candidacies! The first 21 names on the list are traditionally male, the first traditionally female name on the list is Sarah with 119 candidacies.
Out of the top 30 most common candidate names, only 3 names would usually be associated with women candidates and come in at number 22, 26, and 27.

Most Common Names in the May 2021 Elections
Name Number of Candidacies
David 542
John 471
Paul 375
Richard 293
Peter 275

Overall, this week’s elections will see less women standing for office across the country. What we at Democracy Club will be looking out for as the votes roll in is how this translates to who is elected, specifically the gender profile of those elected, and how this compares to years gone by.

Photo by San Fermin Pamplona

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