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The Parliamentary Behaviour of Women and Men MPs: Equal Status, Similar Practices ?

Les femmes parlementaires en Grande-Bretagne : à statut équivalent, pratiques similaires ?
Karine Rivière-De Franco

Résumés

De moins de 5 % dans les années 1980, la représentation des femmes à la Chambre des communes du Parlement britannique atteint désormais 22 %. Cet article se propose d’étudier la contribution des femmes au travail parlementaire lors des dix-huit premiers mois du gouvernement de coalition formé en mai 2010, à travers diverses activités, questions au Premier ministre, motions, débats de clôture, propositions de loi et votes. Une comparaison inter-partis permet, en outre, d’identifier les influences respectives de l’affiliation politique et du genre sur l’action politique. Enfin, l’étude des thématiques pour lesquelles les femmes décident de s’investir permettra de déterminer si ces femmes députés agissent en porte-parole de la population féminine ou en députés ordinaires.

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Entrées d’index

Index de mots-clés :

femme, parlement, participation, Grande-Bretagne

Index géographique :

Great Britain, Grande-Bretagne

Index chronologique :

21st century, XXIe siècle
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Texte intégral

  • 1 The Representation of the People Act, 1918. The Eligibility of Women Act, 1918.
  • 2 Equal Opportunities Commission, Sex and Power : Who Runs Britain ?, EOC, 2011, 3.

1In Britain, since the 1918 Acts which enabled women to vote and sit in Parliament for the first time1, the size of this population group in the House of Commons has increased, especially since the 1990s. Although less than 5 % in the 1980s, 22 % of the MPs elected at the 2010 General Election were women. In its 2011 Report, the Equal Opportunities Commission – which works towards the elimination of discrimination on different grounds, including sex – welcomed this progress while warning that gender imbalance continued to characterize political power in Britain and that at this rate it would “take another 14 General Elections, that is up to 70 years, to achieve an equal number of women MPs.”2

  • 3 See Sarah Childs, Women and British Politics. Descriptive, Substantive and Symbolic Represent (...)
  • 4 The other types of representation are formal and symbolic representation, Hannah Pitkin, The (...)
  • 5 Sarah Childs, Women and British Politics. Descriptive, Substantive and Symbolic Representatio (...)
  • 6 Drude Dahlerup distinguished between four types of situation to identify the potential influe (...)
  • 7 Pippa Norris, op. cit., 91-92.
  • 8 Beth Reingold, Representing Women, Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 20 (...)

2With the increase in female representation, research started to concentrate on the number of female representatives and the obstacles that they encounter in the political contest and in the House of Commons3, but also on the impact that these women may have on politics. These studies rely on the four-part typology of representation established by H. Pitkin in the 1960s, and most particularly on descriptive and substantive representation4. Researchers, feminists and equal rights campaigners have tried to show a correlation between the number of women representatives – descriptive representation – and the ideas and policies they promote – substantive representation5. This hypothesis is based on the notion of a critical mass, the idea that as women reach a certain number – as they become a “tilted group” to use D. Dahlerup’s phrase, comprising between 15 % and 40 % – they will be able to influence the political culture, dominant discourse and policy agenda6. The literature on the substantive representation of women has thus wondered if female parliamentarians represent women’s interests, based on the assumption that gender may be one of the factors influencing legislative behaviour, along with party, interest group affiliation, ideology, cohort of entry, status, region and seat7. It assumes that women’s interests differ from men’s and that “gender is a powerful, monolithic force shaping women’s behavior.”8

  • 9 Anne Phillips, op. cit., 54.
  • 10 Michael Saward, “The Representative Claim,” Contemporary Political Theory, vol. 5, n°3, 2006, (...)
  • 11 Judith Squires, “The Constitutive Representation of Gender: Extra-Parliamentary Representatio (...)
  • 12 Karen Celis, Sarah Childs, Johanna Kantola & Mona Lena Krook, “Rethinking Women’s Substantive (...)
  • 13 Sarah Childs & Mona Lena Krook, “Analyzing Women’s Substantive Representation : From Critical (...)

3Several authors recently challenged the concept of critical mass. A. Phillips, who had described the presence of women in the political sphere as necessary, recognized that “shared experience” does not always secure good representation9. With the notion of “claims-making”, M. Saward contested the idea that only women politicians could defend the interests of the female population ; claims to represent specific interests can come from a variety of political actors, electoral candidates, party leaders, but also interest groups, NGO figures, local figures or celebrities10. J. Squires combined the process of “claims-making” and the notion of “constitutive representation of gender”11, speculating as well that focusing on female representatives ignores differences among women, overlooks men as potential actors on behalf of women and is limited to a single mode of political representation. K. Celis shares the view that parliamentary strategies do not constitute the only political means for improving women’s lives12. As for S. Childs and M.-L. Krook, they prefer the notion of “critical actors” to that of critical mass, to describe legislators – men or women – who initiate reform or who play a central role in mobilizing others for policy change13. Even if the correlation does not prove to be automatic, if women are not the only possible actors and the House of Commons not the only place where women’s interests can be promoted, women MPs may bring a specific contribution to public life and legislative work in particular. Women politicians may express their commitment to women’s issues in their attitudes and values as well as through their actions.

4The existing literature focuses almost exclusively on the Labour governments in the 1990s14, due to the higher number of Labour women MPs and the stronger commitment of the Labour party to women’s political representation. Indeed, in 1997, the election of 101 Labour women (compared with 37 in 1992) – the so-called “Blair’s Babes” – was made possible thanks to the decision of the party to introduce women-only shortlists for the selection of its candidates (All Women Shortlists, AWS). In 2002, the principle was enshrined in the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act which enabled political parties to adopt same sex candidate lists without being accused of infringing the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. The Labour government later convened an exceptional Speaker’s Conference, which led to the Equality Act 2010 which includes positive action provisions for the selection of party candidates, even if they remain “entirely voluntary”15. This measure led to the election of 81 Labour women MPs in 2010 (31 % of the parliamentary group, compared with 16 % for the Conservatives and 12 % for the Lib Dems). Furthermore when he became leader of the party, Ed Miliband reformed the rules of appointment to the Shadow Cabinet making them the exclusive choice of the leader, and he managed to promote quasi parity (14 men and 13 women)16. The exceptional number of women elected in 1997 proved to be “an ideal test case of whether, and under what conditions, women leaders in elected office have the capacity to ‘make a substantive difference.’”17

  • 18 In the 1970s Elizabeth Vallance showed that very few women entered politics with the primary (...)
  • 19 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, Political Recruitment, op. cit., 224.
  • 20 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, “Blair’s Babes : Critical Mass Theory, Gender and Legis (...)
  • 21 Sarah Childs, “In their own words : New Labour Women and the Substantive Representation of (...)
  • 22 Joni Lovenduski, Margaret Moran & Bonnie Sones, Women in Parliament. The New Suffragett (...)
  • 23 Karen Bird, “Gendering Parliamentary Questions,” British Journal of Politics and Intern (...)
  • 24 Sarah Childs & Julie Withey, “Do Women Sign for Women ? Sex and the Signing of Early Day Moti (...)
  • 25 Sarah Childs, “Competing Conceptions of Representation and the Passage of the Sex Discr (...)
  • 26 Rosie Campbell, Sarah Childs & Joni Lovenduski, Women at the Top 2005, Changing Numbers, (...)
  • 27 Rosie Campbell, Sarah Childs & Joni Lovenduski, “Do Women Need Women MPs ? A Comparison of Ma (...)

5The various studies on the Labour period of the 1990s concluded that women tended to hold slightly different values from men and to behave in a slightly different way, but the gender gap remained modest and the best predictor of parliamentary behaviour remained party affiliation18. In the mid-1990s, P. Norris and J. Lovenduski found that “women [politicians] tended to give slightly stronger support for feminist and left wing values, to express stronger concern about social policies, and to give higher priority to constituency casework.”19 A few years later, they again claimed that “without generating a radical revolution in the dominant political culture, this is not politics as usual” : women and men MPs differ on affirmative action and gender equality issues, while showing no difference on the free market economy, the European and the moral traditionalism scale20. S. Childs deduced from interviews that “the new intake of Labour women MPs acknowledge a feminised dimension to political representation, albeit a secondary one.”21 B. Sones, J. Lovenduski and M. Moran supplemented this finding by adding that “women MPs believe they have used their experiences of life to bring a more feminized agenda to the chamber [...] they have become crusaders for social justice.”22 K. Bird’s study of parliamentary questions revealed some sex differences without suggesting “a dramatic feminisation of the parliamentary agenda”23. S. Childs and J. Withey showed that “Labour’s women MPs did indeed act for women” since they were more likely than Labour men to sign women’s and feminist women’s Early Day Motions24. Besides S. Childs found that women contributed more than men to the debates on the Sex Discrimination (Candidate Selection) Bill 2002 but only a handful of MPs, all Labour, advanced the substantive representation argument, and some women expressed outright opposition to the bill25. R. Campbell, S. Childs and J. Lovenduski highlighted the numerous policies implemented under Labour which benefited women (childcare, maternity rights, flexible working, equal pay and domestic violence), demonstrating that “there is highly suggestive and consistent evidence of women making a difference to politics and acting for women.”26 They also showed that women MPs were closer to ordinary women’s interests and that male representatives were less likely to act for women voters on the issues affected by traditional gender roles27.

  • 28 Pippa Norris, op. cit.,101.
  • 29 Sarah Childs, Paul Webb & Sally Marthaler, “Constituting and Substantively Representing Women (...)
  • 30 Sarah Childs & Paul Webb, Sex, Gender and the Conservative Party. From Iron Lady to Kit (...)

6Most of the literature on women’s substantive representation has focused on the centre-left party. The small number of studies on the Conservative Party or on Conservative governments also revealed some slight gender specificities : during the 1992 election, P. Norris found that “gender proved to be significantly associated with the priority given to social policy issues” and that women tended to give a higher priority to their constituency work28. In their analysis of Conservative election manifestos (1992-2005), S. Childs, P. Webb and S. Marthaler looked at the way the party conceives of women, men and gender relations29. S. Childs and P. Webb also studied the participation of Conservative women in the passing of three bills relating to women (The Work and Families Act 2006, The Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008, The Equal Pay and Flexible Working Act 2009) ; they noticed few sex differences in voting but “evidence of an over-representation by women Members in parliamentary debates”30.

  • 31 Ibid., 138.
  • 32 Theresa May, Conservative Party Conference, 2002. See Agnès Alexandre-Collier, Les habits neu (...)
  • 33 Sarah Childs & Paul Webb, op. cit., 218.
  • 34 <http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps, accessed April 23, 2011. Some local cons (...)
  • 35 Joni Lovenduski, op. cit., 146.
  • 36 Theresa May (Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Women and Equalities (...)
  • 37 This appointment runs counter to the conventional horizontal segregation based upon the class (...)
  • 38 However the Cabinet reshuffle of September 2012 saw the number of women decrease to four, a r (...)

7This paper contributes to the existing literature on women’s substantive representation by looking at the parliamentary behaviour of women MPs under the coalition government formed in May 2010 and led by the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. It seems particularly relevant in so far as the composition of the parliamentary Conservative Party has changed under his leadership31. Indeed, before his election as leader in 2005, the Conservative Party was more cautious than Labour in its commitment to a more diverse political representation. However the new leader started a process of “decontamination” of the Conservative brand, to try to get rid of its image of a “nasty party”32, a party which was considered as “male, pale and stale”33. The promotion of a higher number of women within the party was one aspect of these reforms, hence the introduction of lists of priority candidates – male and female – for the 2010 election (A-Lists). As a result, the number of Conservative women MPs rose from 17 to 48, representing 16 % of the parliamentary party34. The party endorses equality rhetoric and equality promotion, without going as far as an equality guarantee, as the Labour Party does35. The first coalition Cabinet includes a number of women in line with female parliamentary representation (nearly 22 %)36, with the powerful function of Home Secretary entrusted to Theresa May37, even if the other portfolios given to women are traditionally considered as feminine (environment, transport, family).38

8This paper studies the work of male and female MPs in the House of Commons during the first eighteen months of the coalition government to see if equality of status means similar behaviour or if equal status is compatible with different practices. It examines the range of tasks women MPs are involved in through various activities such as Prime Minister’s Question Time, Early Day Motions, Adjournment Debates, Private Members’ Bills, votes and rebellions. It assesses the topics women work on to see if they act as feminist spokeswomen, and it also focuses on the respective influences of gender and party affiliation as motives for political action.

An Equal Participation in Parliamentary Activities ?

  • 39 Anthony King, British Members of Parliament. A Self-Portrait, London : Macmillan, 1974, 67. (...)
  • 40 P.-G. Richards, op. cit., 231.
  • 41 Pippa Norris, op. cit., 99-100.
  • 42 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, “Blair’s Babes : Critical Mass Theory, Gender, and Legislat (...)
  • 43 Joni Lovenduski, op. cit., 2.

9Like all British Members of Parliament, women MPs enjoy great freedom of action. As early as the 1970s, A. King and P.-G. Richards pointed out that they can choose to adopt a generalist or a specialist standpoint, to prioritize national or local involvement, individual or collective work and to get involved in public or behind the scenes activities39. Their performance is thus influenced by the way in which they approach their duties, which puts them into different categories; in the 1970s, P.-G. Richards distinguished between “the useful party members” (specializing in one topic), “the good constituency members”(representing local interests), “the individualists”(colourful personalities) and “the part-timers” (politics being just one of their activities)40. Three primary dimensions of legislative roles were also identified by politicians themselves at the end of the 1990s : “constituency workers” (helping people with individual problems and defending the interests of their constituency in Parliament), “party loyalists” (acting as party representatives, defending the leader and the party line), and “parliamentarians” (giving priority to legislative activities, speaking in debates or working in committees)41. At the same time, Members may feel restricted in their freedom – in particular in their wish to act for women – since the British parliament is an institution where strong party discipline and established traditions may predominate over the independence of MPs42. Because of their gender, women are also confronted with a choice between different role models; they can act like their male colleagues without taking their sex into account or they can feel a special commitment to the defence of the female population’s interests, considering that further progress can only be achieved by women themselves. These role models are based on the two main perspectives in feminist thought : “equality feminism”, according to which women are “entitled to be in politics on the same terms and in the same numbers as men” and “difference feminism”, which claims that women have “particular characteristics, interests and perspectives”.43

10This study of the action of British women MPs during the first eighteen months of the coalition government aims at providing an overall view of all the written and oral interventions of individual Members as well as at covering a wide range of specific parliamentary activities, such as Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT), Adjournment Debates, Early Day Motions (EDMs), Private Members’ Bills, votes and rebellions. The analysis is based on Hansard Parliamentary Archives, which provided the entire list of the oral and written contributions of the 650 MPs over the period (44,975 oral contributions and 120,689 written contributions), the 48 Prime Minister’s Question Time debates, the 2,562 Early Day Motions, the 233 Adjournment Debates, the 210 Private Members’ Bills and the results of the 506 divisions over these one and a half years.

  • 44 All the parliamentary activities studied here can be found in Hansard Parliamentary Archive (...)

11Considering first the contributions of Members globally, the number of oral interventions of the 145 women MPs of the 2010 Parliament constituted 22.2 % of the total number of spoken input (10,010 for women and 34,965 for men) (Table 1)44. This percentage corresponds to the representation of women in the House of Commons and shows that the verbal mode did not put women off, they were as often seen and heard as their male colleagues. Women’s written interventions accounted for 18.3 % of all written contributions (22,121 for women, 98,568 for men), minus 4 percentage points compared with their numerical weight (Table 1). The global results demonstrate that women took an active part in parliamentary work and they do not suggest completely different behaviour. On the contrary, the popular preconception of women preferring the written mode at the expense of the oral one is not validated here. This stereotype was denounced by Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party and a long-standing defender of women’s rights :

  • 45 Joni Lovenduski, Margaret Moran & Bonnie Sones, op.cit., 56.

there are two stereotypes, one which is sort of the macho, competitive, adversarial kind of “male” model of politics, and the other which is consensus-building, outcome-focused, collaborative working behind the scenes rather than, you know, flashing yourself around publicly, supposedly the female model.45

12Furthermore as verbal statements, especially during debates, are the contributions most likely to be reported by the media to a wide audience, women did not give the impression of working behind the scenes but of sharing the scene with men. Those conclusions can be detailed with the analysis of specific procedures.

Table 1 : Oral and written interventions in the Commons, May 2010-December 2011

Number of interventions

Share in the total number of interventions (%)

Women

Men

Women

Men

Oral interventions

10,010

34,965

22.2

77.8

Written interventions

22,121

98,568

18.3

81.7

Source : compiled by the author from Hansard Parliamentary Archives

  • 46 P.-G. Richards, op. cit., 105.
  • 47 Philip Norton, The Commons in Perspective, Oxford : Robertson, 1981, 112.
  • 48 Sarah Childs, “A Feminized Style of Politics ?” British Journal of International Re (...)

13Prime Minister’s Question Time represents the climax of the parliamentary week, especially since debates have been broadcast live on television. Constitutionalists disagree on its usefulness for backbenchers; some deem that it constitutes a good opportunity to be heard by the whole House46, whereas according to others, most backbenchers consider it as a “farce” and do not bother to prepare questions47. For those who wish to submit a question, a ballot is organized the Thursday before and the first fifteen names are published in the Questions Book on the Friday; additionally the Speaker is free to call Members who are not on the list to alternate representatives of the government and of the opposition. During those debates, women made up 21.8 % of the speakers, a percentage which roughly corresponds to their political representation (Table 2). Women were not discouraged by the noisy and adversarial atmosphere typical of this weekly half an hour, which was very well described by the new women Labour MPs in 1997 : they criticized the “theatricality of the chamber”, as well as its childishness and inefficiency48. Women MPs are probably well aware that this political and media opportunity should not be allowed to be men’s monopoly. It happens to be all the more important as the first part of PMQT is all male – Ed Miliband questioning David Cameron with John Bercow in charge of the debate – and as constituents may watch their representatives on television.

  • 49 John Major, The Autobiography, London : HarperCollins, 1999, 349.
  • 50 Philip Norton, op. cit., 116. S.-E. Finer, Backbench Opinion in the House of Commons, 1955- (...)
  • 51 Sarah Childs & Julie Withey, op. cit., 554, 561.

14Early Day Motions – proposals for which no date has been specified for a debate – enable MPs to express their point of view on a specific subject and to obtain the support of their colleagues, who can sign them as if they were petitions. However, EDMs, which were once described by former Prime Minister John Major as “the parliamentary equivalent of graffiti”49, are rarely influential50. The Early Day Motions sponsored by women MPs from all the political parties constituted 16 % of all motions (410 sponsored by women, 2,152 by men), minus 6 points relative to their political weight in the Commons (Table 2). This activity, which benefits from little media coverage and which brings no real substantial result, was underused by women MPs. This result may be surprising since, even if EDMs are unlikely to have a direct political impact, their signing induces little cost and is not constrained by party loyalty and parliamentary norms. As S. Childs and J. Withey concluded from their study of the EDMs for the 1997 Parliament, this activity “might be suggestive of how women MPs would act elsewhere in parliament if they could” or is “suggestive of how they might behave behind the scenes.51” Looking at the quantitative data for the 2010 session would suggest a weak involvement of women MPs but the results need to be completed by a qualitative analysis identifying the type of EDMs that women signed.

  • 52 T.-F. Lindsay, Parliament from the Press Gallery, London : Macmillan, 1967, 40.

15Adjournment Debates – aimed at examining a subject without having to call for a division or to reach a formal decision – occur at the end of the day for half an hour. MPs can resort to them to discuss a general topic, a government policy or a constituency issue52. A ballot fixes the theme, except on Thursdays when it is the Speaker’s prerogative. Women MPs tabled 25.3 % of the debates (59 debates for women, 174 for men), plus 3 percentage points compared with their numerical power. Adjournment Debates therefore represent one of the favourite means for women MPs to express their opinions (Table 2). More women tabled this type of debates than took part in PMQT, which may suggest that even though they made a point of participating in the highly media-covered debate, they prefer a quieter atmosphere when the House is not packed and when they are more likely to be able to express their points of view without interruption and a noisy background.

16Members can also benefit from the opportunity of introducing a bill. However, contrary to the government’s bills, which are defended by frontbenchers, Private Members’ Bills from backbenchers are unlikely to become law. MPs have three ways to introduce a bill: the Ballot (held at the beginning of the parliamentary year, the first seven ballot bills enjoy a day’s debate), the 10 Minute Rule (Members have a 10 minute-speech to outline their position) and Presentation (Members only formally introduce the title of the bill)53. Over the period, women were responsible for 19.5 % of the Private Members’ Bills (41 bills for women, 169 for men), minus 3 points compared with their 22.2 % House of Commons’ presence (Table 2).

  • 54 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, “Westminster Women : The Politics of Presence,” Political S (...)
  • 55 Sarah Childs & Philip Cowley, “Too Spineless to Rebel ? New Labour’s Women MPs,” Br (...)

17Lastly, MPs’ voting behaviour in the Commons, recorded in the division lists and made public since 1936, may prove to be another good indicator of parliamentary activity. Voting for or opposing a bill may be interpreted as the reflection of a personal point of view or as political loyalty to one’s party. However the conclusions which can be drawn from this source should be put into perspective ; as J. Lovenduski and P. Norris warned, the specific British context of strict party discipline limits the relevance of roll call voting in revealing gender differences54. Indeed, on most issues, MPs have to respect the party whip – they have to vote according to the official party line –, except in case of free votes on matters of conscience such as abortion or capital punishment. The study of the frequency of attendance over the first eighteen months of the coalition government does not show any gender gap : women voted as often as men, with an average of 72.5 % attendance compared with 72.3 % for men. Ordinary Members voting differently from the majority of their party – backbench rebellions – nevertheless occur. If the attendance rates of men and women MPs were similar, on the contrary, their rebellion rates diverged : the women’s rate was nearly three times lower than men’s (0.5 % for women, 1.3 % for men). This difference in gender behaviour was identified by S. Childs and P. Cowley in their analysis of the new Labour women MPs in the 1997 Parliament. They concluded that they were less than half as likely to rebel against the party whip as the rest of the parliamentary Labour Party and even those who did, did so around half as often55. Even if Labour women still constitute the majority of the House in 2010 (81 MPs compared with 49 Conservative women), the trend towards a greater respect of the party whip among women MPs, whatever their party, is still valid. Women tend to adopt a specific voting behaviour in the Commons ; they stick to party discipline at the expense of individual freedom, a particularity which may be explained by different factors: conviction, loyalty or conformity pressures and the fear of being stigmatized.

Table 2 : Parliamentary activities of women MPs, May 2010-December 2011

Share of women in the activity (%)

Comparison with numerical representation in the Commons (% points)

Prime Minister’s QT

21.8

-0.5

Early Day Motions

16

-6.3

Adjournment Debates

25.3

+3

Bills

19.5

-2.8

Source : compiled by the author from Hansard Parliamentary Archives

18The trends which have been identified so far concerning the global oral and written interventions of women MPs do not enable us to contrast two distinct political conducts or to single out a specific gender induced stance, even if some slight differences have emerged: a higher involvement in oral activities than in written ones compared with their representation in the House. The study of the different parliamentary procedures has permitted the identification of the activities preferred by women MPs. The only activity in which they are over-represented compared with their parliamentary presence is Adjournment Debates. For all the other tasks, women happen to be under-represented (motions and bills). Concerning their voting behaviour, a gender specific characteristic appears only as far as the respect of the party whip is concerned. Moreover the gap between representation and contribution in Parliament, when it exists, remains relatively low – variations range from minus 6 points to plus 3 points – therefore female MPs do not work in a way which is radically different from men. The global analysis of women MPs’ work in the Lower House has not revealed a specific female parliamentary model. The following study of characteristics by party may help to determine the respective influences of gender and party affiliation on political behaviour.

Gender-induced or Party-motivated Action ?

  • 56Quotas, zipping and all-women shortlists are tokenistic and damage local democracy,” Campa (...)

19The characteristics identified to define the parliamentary behaviour of women MPs have revealed global trends about the group of women MPs as a whole. However, these global results may hide party differences, especially considering the different histories, traditions and evolutions of the three parties which dominate British political life. If the Conservative Party has evolved under David Cameron towards a greater commitment to women’s political participation, Labour remains the champion of the women’s cause. As for the Liberal Democrats, they reject any form of positive discrimination considering that quotas and all women shortlists infringe local democracy56, and for the 2010 General Election they simply organized training for their women candidates, only 7 of them managing to get elected (compared with 49 for the Conservatives, 81 for Labour).

20For oral activities, Labour women over-participated compared with their presence within their party: their spoken interventions represented 46.7 % of their party’s verbal output, whereas women constituted 31 % of the parliamentary Labour Party (plus 15.7 points) (Table 3). This over-representation of Labour women in debates could also be found to a lesser extent among Conservative and Liberal Democrat women (plus 3.9 and 2.8 percentage points respectively). The trend is therefore similar for the three main parties, but Labour women MPs stood out for their intense activity. For written interventions, women from the different parties showed dissimilar political conducts as well. Whereas Liberal Democrat and Labour women tended to have an involvement which exceeded their numerical weight within their party (plus 2 and 16.6 points respectively), the reverse happened for Conservative women (minus 1.8 points) (Table 3).

21The comprehensive study by party highlights the high degree of participation of centre-left women, both in oral and written activities. This phenomenon may be partly explained by a greater representation and group dynamics: they may feel more confident and assertive due to their number. On the other hand, as Conservative and Liberal Democrat women belong to the government, they could be expected to benefit from the support of a majority of the House and to feel at ease to express themselves, which was not the case as far as global contributions are concerned. This was particularly striking for Conservative women as their descriptive representation was multiplied by three between 2005 and 2010.

Table 3 : Oral and written interventions of women MPs by party, May 2010-December 2011

Share of women’s contributions compared with their numerical party representation (% points)

Oral interventions

Conservative Party

+3.9

Labour Party

+15.7

Liberal Democrats

+2.8

Written interventions

Conservative Party

-1.8

Labour Party

+16.6

Liberal Democrats

+2

Source : compiled by the author from Hansard Parliamentary Archives

22The strong parliamentary activity of Labour women MPs is confirmed if one looks at the detail of specific procedures. During Question Time debates, they put 13 % of all the questions whereas they represented 12.3 % of all the MPs in the Commons (plus 0.7 point) (Table 4); on the contrary, Conservative and Lib Dem women could be heard less frequently during those oral exchanges (minus 1.5 and 0.1 points respectively). Centre-left women also stood out for their involvement in Private Members’ Bills : they introduced 37.2% of all the bills coming from the Labour Party, whereas they made up 31 % of all Labour MPs (plus 6.2 points); on Bills, this tendency was common to all three parties (plus 6.2 % for Labour, plus 5.6 points for the Lib Dems, plus 1.3 points for the Conservatives). The same propensity emerged from Adjournment Debates, in which women took a larger part than their respective weight within their party would suggest, but here again Labour women proved to be remarkably dynamic, tabling 43.2 % of all Labour Adjournment Debates (plus 12.2 points, plus 12.1 points for the Lib Dems, plus 8.4 points for the Conservatives). On the other hand, even if women from the three parties voted slightly more frequently than their male colleagues, the attendance of Labour women at divisions was lower than the other parties (plus 1.8 points, plus 4 points for the Conservatives, plus 2 points for the Lib Dems). Furthermore, Labour female representatives showed the lowest rebellion rate, followed by the Conservatives and then the Liberal Democrats (minus 0.25 points compared with Labour men, compared with minus 0.85 points for the Conservatives and minus 1.79 points for the Lib Dems); surprisingly the higher the number of women MPs, the lower the rebellion rate.

Table 4 : Parliamentary activities of women MPs by party, May 2010-December 2011

Share of women’s contributions compared with their numerical representation (% points)

PMQT*

Conservative Party

-1.5

Labour Party

+0.7

Liberal Democrats

-0.1

Adjournment Debates

Conservative Party

+8.4

Labour Party

+12.2

Liberal Democrats

+12.1

Bills

Conservative Party

+1.3

Labour Party

+6.2

Liberal Democrats

+5.6

Vote attendance

Conservative Party

+4

Labour Party

+1.8

Liberal Democrats

+2

*Figures for PMQT refer to the share of women’s contributions compared with their numerical representation in the House. The other figures refer to the share of their contribution compared with their numerical representation within their party.

Source : compiled by the author from Hansard Parliamentary Archives.

23The study of women MPs’ action in Parliament reveals differences linked to party membership. Labour women, who belong to the party with the most outspoken commitment to equal representation and with the highest number of female representatives – even though they were part of the Opposition – tended both to be the most active in the Commons and the most respectful of the party whip. Women MPs showed behaviour different from that of the male MPs of their party. Labour women were the most active of the three parties, with an involvement which was greater than their party weight would grant, on most procedures. The following examination of the subjects women MPs work on gives some indications of gender-related interests.

Feminist Spokeswomen or Gender Neutral Politicians ?

  • 57 Sarah Childs & Paul Webb, op. cit.

24The analysis so far has shown the degree of involvement of women MPs in various parliamentary activities. However it gives no indication of the type of issues they decided to get involved in, of their preference for topics relating to the female population and of their potential feminist position. A qualitative study of the themes concerned by the various activities complements the quantitative approach and identifies women MPs’ interests. If women MPs do tend to favour women’s issues, the hypothetical correlation between the descriptive and substantive representation of women may be reinforced. However one has to bear in mind the difficulty of defining women’s issues and interests – definitions might vary among women57 – as well as the heterogeneity of the female population and female politicians in terms of socio-economic, cultural, or political experience. The study aims at discovering if women act as representatives of a specific gender group and if they are mostly involved in women’s issues.

25For this study of the 2010 Parliament, women’s issues have been defined as topics in which women are explicitly mentioned or topics for which the actors, victims or beneficiaries, are or would be women. The analysis shows that women MPs did not ignore women’s issues even if they clearly did not constitute their priority. Globally, PMQT, Adjournment Debates, EDMs, bills and rebellion votes dealing with women’s concerns represented less than 10 % of women’s contributions to those activities (Table 5). Women Members’ work on behalf of the female population was the greatest during Adjournment Debates ; nearly 12 % of the debates tabled by women MPs focused on women’s issues, highlighting questions of maternity, abortion and rape. Prime Minister’s Question Time ranked second : 8 % of the questions asked by female MPs dealt with women’s issues; these questions focused on health (breast cancer, domestic violence), social security benefits (for young or single mothers), the impact of the coalition’s reforms (pension, anonymity for rape defendants) or equality (number of women on company boards). K. Bird, who studied the use of parliamentary questions to address gender-related concerns during the 1997-1998 parliamentary session, revealed sex differences in the use of the terms “women”, “men” and “gender” by MPs ; women asked 35 % of these questions, greater than their overall proportion in Parliament (18 %)58. About 6 % of the Early Day Motions sponsored by women revealed a preoccupation with women’s matters ; they concerned rape and abortion, wage equality and political balance, the pensionable age and ovary cancer. Women’s concerns were the object of a very small minority of bills and rebellion votes. About 4 % of the rebellion votes affected bills on subjects of primary interest for women ; nearly all of them opposed a bill offering women asking for an abortion the “option of receiving independent counseling and advice”59. Only one bill was devoted to the female population (2.4 % of all bills introduced by women MPs) ; it was related to the proposal to grant anonymity for rape defendants.

Table 5 : Women MPs and women’s issues, May 2010-December 2011

Percentage of women MPs’ activities dealing with women’s issues

Prime Minister’s QT

8

Early Day Motions

6.1

Adjournment Debates

11.9

Bills

2.4

Rebellion votes

4.3

Average

6.5

Source : compiled by the author from Hansard Parliamentary Archives

  • 60 Pamela Brookes, Women at Westminster : An Account of Women in the British Parliament, 1918- (...)
  • 61 Sarah Childs, New Labour’s Women MPs : Women Representing Women, London, Routledge, (...)

26Women’s work in the House of Commons does not consist in putting women’s issues on the agenda and in defending women’s interests only ; very few female MPs actively championed the cause of women, on the contrary, these issues represented a minor part of their job. In her study of parliamentary debates from the 1920s to the 1960s, P. Brookes concluded that women’s work did not differ radically from that of men : “women have had a contribution to make on nearly every major issue before Parliament. The battles they have fought for their own sex have been but a small proportion of their total effort.”60 Several factors can be put forward to explain this seeming disregard. There may be no reason to assume that, because of their sex, women politicians should focus exclusively on fields supposedly of traditional interest to women. Furthermore, some women MPs may try to avoid being distinguished from their male colleagues and being labelled as feminists, because of the strong negative connotations the word has come to carry; they “fear that by taking up women’s concerns, they would be stereotyped and marginalized as only interested in women’s concerns.”61

  • 62 Monica Charlot (dir.), Les femmes dans la société britannique, Paris : Armand Colin (...)

27When the study is not limited to women’s issues but widened to social subjects in general – children, family, education, disability, old people, poverty – a different picture emerges concerning a potential specific contribution of women MPs. More than 20 % of the parliamentary work of women MPs over the period was devoted to social questions (Table 6). Putting aside rebellion votes, because of the strong party discipline mentioned before, between 20 and 30 % of women’s parliamentary actions dealt with social issues. Social themes accounted for 29.1 % of all the questions put by women to the Prime Minister, 26.8 % of all the bills they introduced, 20.5 % of all the Early Day Motions they sponsored and 20.3 % of the Adjournment Debates they tabled. Monica Charlot had listed the bills introduced by women MPs for the 1967 parliamentary session and found that more than 20 % dealt with subjects which are traditionally considered as social or female (mothers and children, nurses, fight against alcoholism, animal cruelty)62. During the first eighteen months of the coalition government, over a quarter of women’s activities in the Commons was directly linked either to women’s or to social issues (27.6 % on average, with 37.1 % for PMQT, 32.2 % for Adjournment Debates, 26.6 % for EDMs, 29.2 % for bills and 12.9 % for rebellion votes, Table  6). Women MPs did get involved in issues that were especially relevant to women, but three quarters of their job dealt with other topics. Women MPs discussed, debated and voted on social questions affecting the daily life of families and women but they did not unambiguously act as feminist spokeswomen.

Table 6: Women MPs and social issues, May 2010-December 2011

Women MPs’ activities dealing with social issues (%)

Women MPs’ activities dealing with women’s issues and social issues (%)

Prime Minister’s QT

29.1

37.1

Early Day Motions

20.5

26.6

Adjournment Debates

20.3

32.2

Bills

26.8

29.2

Rebellion votes

8.6

12.9

Average

21.1

27.6

Source : compiled by the author from Hansard Parliamentary Archives

28As with the analysis of the level of involvement in parliamentary tasks, global figures about the type of issues women Members privileged may hide huge party variations. The study previously identified a higher quantitative participation of Labour women, but this over-representation may be focused on women’s issues or spread over all kinds of topics. On the other hand, Conservative and Liberal Democrat women may appear to be less active than their Labour colleagues but may concentrate all their effort on women’s interests. The centres of interest publicly displayed by women may differ according to party affiliation, if women prioritize party over gender.

29Labour women asked more questions of the Prime Minister on women’s issues than their female colleagues from the other parties (63 % of all those questions came from Labour women, while they represented 55.9 % of all women MPs, plus 7.1 points, compared with minus 6.8 points for the Conservatives and plus 5.7 points for the Lib Dems) (Table 7). Those same representatives also contributed more to Early Day Motions focusing on topics of interest for women than the Conservatives: they sponsored 61.5 % of that type of motions (plus 5.6 points, minus 17.7 points for the Conservatives, plus 18.3 points for the Lib Dems). On the other hand, Conservative women happened to be more involved in the Adjournment Debates highlighting women’s concerns: they tabled 57.1% of those debates (plus 24 points, with minus 13.3 points for Labour, minus 4.8 points for the Lib Dems). Furthermore 69.2 % of the rebellion votes on bills of direct impact on this gender group came from Conservative women (plus 36.1 points, minus 25.1 for Labour, minus 4.8 points for the Lib Dems) and of all the Private Members’ Bills from women, the only one to deal with a feminine theme was introduced by a Conservative.

Table 7: Women MPs and women’s issues, by party, May 2010-December 2011

Women’s issues (% points)

Prime Minister’s QT


Conservative Party

-6.8

Labour Party

+7.1

Liberal Democrats

+5.7

Adjournment Debates

Conservative Party

+24

Labour Party

-13.3

Liberal Democrats

-4.8

Rebellion votes

Conservative Party

+36.1

Labour Party

-25.1

Liberal Democrats

-4.8

Early Day Motions

Conservative Party

-17.7

Labour Party

+5.6

Liberal Democrats

+18.3

Source : compiled by the author from Hansard Parliamentary Archives

30This analysis has revealed no single consistent tendency : women from the three parties expressed a higher concern for women’s issues during different activities : questions to the Prime Minister for Labour, Adjournment Debates, rebellion votes and bills for the Conservatives and Early Day Motions for the Liberal Democrats. The conventional wisdom associating left-wing parties with attention to women’s topics is not confirmed by this study. The Labour Party, generally adopts a women-friendly rhetoric, has kept its tradition of defending “heart issues” and as S. Childs and P. Webb argue :

  • 63 Sarah Childs & Paul Webb, op. cit., 139.

All other things being equal, the expectation is that Labour MPs will be more predisposed towards gender equality positions than Conservatives – for left/right ideological reasons (inter-party differences).63

  • 64 Sarah Childs, Women and British Politics. Descriptive, Substantive and Symbolic Rep (...)
  • 65 Anne Phillips, op. cit., 54.
  • 66 Sarah Childs, New Labour’s Women MPs : Women Representing Women, op. cit., 3, 204.

31However, even if Labour women MPs’ participation in parliamentary work was the highest of the three parties, they did not use those opportunities to promote women’s interests and their action did not reflect a greater commitment to the women’s cause than the Conservative women MPs, who intervened less in parliamentary procedures and who belong to a party which has a lower number of women representatives and which used to promote a very traditional vision of the family and of women’s role in society. The comparison of the three parties which have very different percentages of women Members showed that there was no direct link between the number of women representatives and the commitment to women’s issues, between descriptive representation – the number of women representatives – and the substantive representation – the impact of women politicians64. “Shared experience” does not secure always good representation, as A. Phillips herself recognized65. Contrary to expectations Labour women seemed more indifferent to women’s questions while Conservative women showed greater concern. This relative absence of commitment of female MPs to women’s matters may turn out to be disappointing for the pressure groups and the feminist organizations which campaign for equal representation in the political sphere and for women’s rights in general. Besides if there are numerous examples of pro-women legislation passed thanks to the initiatives of women MPs (reform of VAT on sanitary products, legislation on equal pay or domestic violence), counterexamples also abound (opposition of three women during the second reading of the Sex Discrimination, Election Candidates, Bill in 2002, opposition of only one Labour woman to the Social Security Bill reducing lone parent benefits in 1997).66

Conclusion

32The purpose of this paper was to identify whether gender-related parliamentary behaviour existed, even if it could only provide a partial view of men and women’s activity in the House of Commons, since behavioural data on activities which occur behind the scenes are difficult to gather. The study showed that once they were elected to the House of Commons, women’s work as MPs did not significantly differ from their male colleagues’. They took part in the various activities in the same proportion as men and did not display a variety of behavioural divergences, even if some variations appeared depending on the type of duties. Moreover, even if over a quarter of their work dealt with feminine and social issues, the defence of women’s interests did not constitute their priority and they did not act as representatives of the female population only. Lastly, parliamentary behaviour depends on party membership, and the most numerous group of women MPs, Labour women, did not show more interest in women’s issues than the other parliamentary groups, invalidating the link between descriptive and substantive representation. Even if equal representation has not been reached, the number and visibility of women in the Commons has increased, and these female Members demonstrate a complete involvement in the various aspects of a Member of Parliament’s activities. However, they have not created a new style of parliamentarians, a female parliamentary model, with contributions and priorities radically different from men’s. Some feminists may feel disappointed by the present state of affairs, while others may see cause for satisfaction and hope, some evidence of political equality.

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Notes

1 The Representation of the People Act, 1918. The Eligibility of Women Act, 1918.

2 Equal Opportunities Commission, Sex and Power : Who Runs Britain ?, EOC, 2011, 3.

3 See Sarah Childs, Women and British Politics. Descriptive, Substantive and Symbolic Representation, London : Routledge, 2008. Drude Dahlerup (ed.), Women, Quotas and Politics, New York : Routledge, 2006. Azza M. Karam (ed.), Women in Parliament : Beyond Numbers, Stockholm : International IDEA, 1998. Joni Lovenduski, Feminizing Politics, Cambridge : Polity Press, 2005. Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, Political Recruitment, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1995. Anne Phillips, The Politics of Presence, Oxford : Clarendon, 1995.

4 The other types of representation are formal and symbolic representation, Hannah Pitkin, The Concept of Representation, Berkeley : Berkeley University Press, 1967, 209.

5 Sarah Childs, Women and British Politics. Descriptive, Substantive and Symbolic Representation, op. cit.

6 Drude Dahlerup distinguished between four types of situation to identify the potential influence of minority groups : “uniform groups” (dominated by one group), “skewed groups” (with minorities representing less than 15%), “tilted groups” (with minorities up to 40 %), and “balanced groups” (ratios within 60/40), Drude Dahlerup, “From a Small to a Large Minority : Women in Scandinavian Politics,” Scandinavian Political Studies, vol. 11, n°4, 1988, 275-298.

7 Pippa Norris, op. cit., 91-92.

8 Beth Reingold, Representing Women, Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2000, 242-243.

9 Anne Phillips, op. cit., 54.

10 Michael Saward, “The Representative Claim,” Contemporary Political Theory, vol. 5, n°3, 2006, 305-306.

11 Judith Squires, “The Constitutive Representation of Gender: Extra-Parliamentary Representations of Gender Relations,” Representation, vol. 44, n°2, 2008, 199-200.

12 Karen Celis, Sarah Childs, Johanna Kantola & Mona Lena Krook, “Rethinking Women’s Substantive Representation,” Representation, vol. 44, n°2, 2008, 107.

13 Sarah Childs & Mona Lena Krook, “Analyzing Women’s Substantive Representation : From Critical Mass to Critical Actors,” Government and Opposition, vol. 44, n°2, 2009, 145.

14 Some studies concerning a possible gender-related behaviour were also carried out in the United States in the 1990s. See Sue Thomas, How Women Legislate, New York : Oxford University Press, 1994, Beth Reingold, op. cit.

15 <http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/principal/speaker/speakers-conference/>, accessed May 12, 2012.

16 Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper, Rosie Winterton, Angela Eagle, Caroline Flint, Rachel Reeves, Tessa Jowell, Maria Eagle, Mary Creagh, Margaret Curran, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Liz Kendall, Emily Thornberry.

17 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, “Blair’s Babes : Critical Mass Theory, Gender and Legislative Life,” Paper for the Women and Public Policy Program weekly seminar, September 28, 2001, Kennedy School of Government, 1.

18 In the 1970s Elizabeth Vallance showed that very few women entered politics with the primary intention of representing women and their interests, Elizabeth Vallance, Women in the House : A Study of Women Members of Parliament, London : Athlone Press, 1979.

19 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, Political Recruitment, op. cit., 224.

20 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, “Blair’s Babes : Critical Mass Theory, Gender and Legislative Life,” op. cit., 1.

21 Sarah Childs, “In their own words : New Labour Women and the Substantive Representation of Women,” British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol. 3, n°2, 2001, 173.

22 Joni Lovenduski, Margaret Moran & Bonnie Sones, Women in Parliament. The New Suffragettes, London : Politicos, 2005, 53.

23 Karen Bird, “Gendering Parliamentary Questions,” British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol. 7, n°3, 2005, 353-370.

24 Sarah Childs & Julie Withey, “Do Women Sign for Women ? Sex and the Signing of Early Day Motions in the 1997 Parliament,” Political Studies, vol. 52, n°3, 2004, 560.

25 Sarah Childs, “Competing Conceptions of Representation and the Passage of the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Bill,” Journal of Legislative Studies, vol. 8, n°3, 2002, 97.

26 Rosie Campbell, Sarah Childs & Joni Lovenduski, Women at the Top 2005, Changing Numbers, Changing Politics ?, Hansard Society, 2005, 97.

27 Rosie Campbell, Sarah Childs & Joni Lovenduski, “Do Women Need Women MPs ? A Comparison of Mass and Elite Attitudes,” British Journal of Political Science, vol. 40, n°1, 2010, 194.

28 Pippa Norris, op. cit.,101.

29 Sarah Childs, Paul Webb & Sally Marthaler, “Constituting and Substantively Representing Women : Applying New Approaches to a UK Case Study,” Politics and Gender, vol. 6, n°2, 2010, 220.

30 Sarah Childs & Paul Webb, Sex, Gender and the Conservative Party. From Iron Lady to Kitten Heels, London : Palgrave, Macmillan, 2012, 147.

31 Ibid., 138.

32 Theresa May, Conservative Party Conference, 2002. See Agnès Alexandre-Collier, Les habits neufs de David Cameron, Paris : Presses de Sciences Po, 2010.

33 Sarah Childs & Paul Webb, op. cit., 218.

34 <http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps>, accessed April 23, 2011. Some local constituency associations expressed hostility toward those women imposed by the party’s headquarters and called them “Cameron’s Cuties”.

35 Joni Lovenduski, op. cit., 146.

36 Theresa May (Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Women and Equalities), Caroline Spelman (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Baroness Warsi (Minister without Portfolio), Justine Greening (Secretary of State for Transport) and Cheryl Gillan (Secretary of State for Wales).

37 This appointment runs counter to the conventional horizontal segregation based upon the classic distinction between soft departments – such as Education and Health – and hard ones – such as Finances and Foreign Affairs –, the latter being traditionally men’s preserve.

38 However the Cabinet reshuffle of September 2012 saw the number of women decrease to four, a reshuffle considered as “disastrous for women’s representation” by Katie Ghose from Counting Women In. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9521414/Cabinet-reshuffle-disastrous-for-womens-representation.html>, accessed September 11, 2012.

39 Anthony King, British Members of Parliament. A Self-Portrait, London : Macmillan, 1974, 67. P.-G. Richards, The Backbenchers, London : Faber and Faber, 1972, 92.

40 P.-G. Richards, op. cit., 231.

41 Pippa Norris, op. cit., 99-100.

42 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, “Blair’s Babes : Critical Mass Theory, Gender, and Legislative Life,” op. cit., 6.

43 Joni Lovenduski, op. cit., 2.

44 All the parliamentary activities studied here can be found in Hansard Parliamentary Archives. <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmhansrd.html>, accessed February-April 2011.

45 Joni Lovenduski, Margaret Moran & Bonnie Sones, op.cit., 56.

46 P.-G. Richards, op. cit., 105.

47 Philip Norton, The Commons in Perspective, Oxford : Robertson, 1981, 112.

48 Sarah Childs, “A Feminized Style of Politics ?” British Journal of International Relations, vol. 6, n°1, 2004, 5.

49 John Major, The Autobiography, London : HarperCollins, 1999, 349.

50 Philip Norton, op. cit., 116. S.-E. Finer, Backbench Opinion in the House of Commons, 1955-1959, Oxford : Pergamon Press, 1961, 7.

51 Sarah Childs & Julie Withey, op. cit., 554, 561.

52 T.-F. Lindsay, Parliament from the Press Gallery, London : Macmillan, 1967, 40.

53 <http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/bills/private-members>, accessed November 30, 2012.

54 Joni Lovenduski & Pippa Norris, “Westminster Women : The Politics of Presence,” Political Studies, vol. 51, n°1, 2003, 97.

55 Sarah Childs & Philip Cowley, “Too Spineless to Rebel ? New Labour’s Women MPs,” British Journal of Political Science, vol. 33, n°3, 2003, 345-365.

56Quotas, zipping and all-women shortlists are tokenistic and damage local democracy,” Campaign for Gender Balance, 2005 motion. <http://www.genderbalance.org.uk>, accessed April 15, 2010.

57 Sarah Childs & Paul Webb, op. cit.

58 Karen Bird, op. cit.

59 Health and Social Care Bill 2011 – Independent Abortion Advice. <http://www.genderbalance.org.uk/>, accessed June 6, 2012.

60 Pamela Brookes, Women at Westminster : An Account of Women in the British Parliament, 1918-1966, London : P. Davies, 1967, 239.

61 Sarah Childs, New Labour’s Women MPs : Women Representing Women, London, Routledge, 2004, 137.

62 Monica Charlot (dir.), Les femmes dans la société britannique, Paris : Armand Colin, 1977, 243.

63 Sarah Childs & Paul Webb, op. cit., 139.

64 Sarah Childs, Women and British Politics. Descriptive, Substantive and Symbolic Representation, op. cit.

65 Anne Phillips, op. cit., 54.

66 Sarah Childs, New Labour’s Women MPs : Women Representing Women, op. cit., 3, 204.

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Karine Rivière-De Franco, « The Parliamentary Behaviour of Women and Men MPs: Equal Status, Similar Practices ? », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], vol. XII-n°7 | 2014, mis en ligne le 30 novembre 2014, consulté le 20 octobre 2017. URL : http://lisa.revues.org/6877

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Karine Rivière-De Franco

Université d’Orléans, France. Karine Rivière-De Franco est Maître de conférences au Département d’études anglophones de l’Université d’Orléans. Elle travaille sur la vie politique britannique contemporaine, notamment la communication politique, les campagnes électorales, les médias et les femmes en politique. Elle est l’auteur de La communication électorale en Grande-Bretagne. De M. Thatcher à T. Blair (1979-2005), L’Harmattan, 2008 et a co-dirigé Image et communication politique. La Grande-Bretagne depuis 1980, L’Harmattan, 2007 et Stratégies et campagnes électorales en Grande-Bretagne et aux Etats-Unis, L’Harmattan, 2009.

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