Under-representation of women in wider Durham politics

Key members of the leadership of Durham’s three main political societies (Durham Liberal Association, Durham University Conservative Association and Durham University Labour Club) have admitted that women are unfairly represented within their groups.

Felicity McCourt, outgoing Chair of the Durham Liberal Association (DLA), offered a scathing indictment of her society’s equality and inclusivity: “Representation of women within the DLA still has a long way to go, and I regret not having been able to do more to bring new voices into the society over the past year”.

While McCourt says that “the atmosphere within the society… could and should be more wel coming”. She concludes by lamenting the fact that: “There remain pockets of university life completely blind and deaf to female experience and perspective”.

Kate McIntosh, co-Chair at Durham University Labour Club (DULC) was equally uncomplimentary of her society’s efforts to include women.

She says: “Going along to my first Labour Club meeting was a bit of an ordeal; I was intimidated, felt like I didn’t know anything I should do, and ultimately annoyed that I had hoped for better”.

The nature of her first experience was sufficiently unpleasant that she felt compelled to establish “a Labour Women group” in order that women could “meet other members in a less intimidating environment”. As former Politics Editor of this newspaper, McIntosh knows “there are countless women in Durham with developing political interests, ambitions, and impressive arguments”, and she “wondered countless times, why does that not translate into better representation in our political clubs?”

Lucy Woodruff, Events Officer of Durham University Conservative Association (DUCA), says she has “had to work twice as hard to make half the amount of progress” in the society, and that “despite my extensive experience within the Conservative party and at DUCA I was only ever able to win uncontested elections”.

Photograph Peter Bennet via Flickr

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