Monday, July 28, 2014

The male party

Another election, and another National party list packed with men. This time though its getting some attention:

National released its party list yesterday and if it gets 60 MPs into Parliament after the election, just 16 - 27 per cent - will be women.

In its full party list of 75, 21 are women. It currently has 15 women in Parliament - about a quarter of its caucus. That is in contrast to Labour; 43 per cent of its caucus are women.

Mr Goodfellow said there were a number of women in the pipeline who were likely to be future candidates.

"We are working really hard in the party to ensure we have a good representation of women, but National do have a very democratic process for selecting candidates and there are a lot of factors for the list ranking committee to take into account, including the merits of the candidates and gender and cultural diversity."

National's electorate candidates are selected by party members in local electorates rather than National headquarters. Of the 42 electorates it holds, 12 have women candidates. Of the 10 electorates in which the current MP is resigning, only two selected women candidates to replace them.

There's a name for this: institutional sexism. And National's response to it - to shrug its shoulders and say "what can you do?" - reflects its lack of commitment to tackling it in wider public life. There are solutions: all-woman electorate shortlists are a common one overseas, as are requirements for gender balance in the list. And its not as if there's a shortage of talented women to take those spots. But National is the party of the old boy's network, dedicated to preserving existing privilege. An equal list might mean that people like Lindsay Tisch and Tim Macindoe had to make way for people who were better than them, despite their possession of a penis. And that's against everything National stands for.