Select Committees: Membership by gender

As we entered the conference recess, the select committee makeup had begun to take shape…

What proportion of select committees members are female, how does this compare to the result of the General Election and how are women represented among committee chairs?

MPs nominated to sit on select committees

The chairs of 28 select committees were elected by the House of Commons on 12 July 2017 and MPs were nominated to 27 of these committees on 11 September 2017. The Committee on Standards is the only committee whose chair was elected but whose Members have not yet been nominated.

Overall, there were 322 places available, including chairs, on the 27 nominated committees. When the House agreed the nominations on 11 September, 32 places remained to be filled. There are still vacancies on 15 different committees, however, we expect the majority of these places to be filled shortly after the House returns.

Gender balance of committee members

Of the 290 places filled on select committees by MPs elected as chairs or nominated to committees (not including the Chair of the Committee on Standards), 33% (96) are female. This closely reflects the gender balance of the House of Commons which is 32% female (208 out of 650 MPs). Some MPs are on more than one committee, as we explore below.

Chart showing members nominated to select committees in 2017 by gender and party

Gender balance by party

The gender proportion for Labour and Conservative committee membership is also similar to the results of the 2017 General Election. 44% of Labour Members and 24% of Conservatives on committees are women compared to 45% and 21% of their party intake respectively.

Out of the 35 SNP Members elected at the 2017 General Election, 34% (12) are women. In comparison, 22% of current SNP committee members are women. To be in proportion to the 2017 General Election, the number of SNP women would need to increase from 6 to 9.

Of the 12 committees that have had all their members nominated, two, (Education and Health) have a majority of women. We also already know at this point that although the Women and Equalities Committee has not had all of its members nominated, it will also have a majority of female members.

MPs on multiple committees

Excluding the Chair of the Committee on Standards, the 290 places were filled by a total of 259 Members. In all, 26 Members have places on more than one committee: 21 have places on two committees; and five have places on three committees.

6 of the 26 Members (23%) who have been nominated to more than one committee are women. 90 women fill 96 places and 169 men fill 194 places.

Gender balance of committee chairs

The proportion of female chairs has increased since 2010 with nine of the 28 chairs (32%) elected at the beginning of the 2017 Parliament being women. This compares to six of the 27 elected chairs (22%) at the beginning of the 2015 Parliament and five of the 24 elected chairs (21%) at the start of the 2010 Parliament.

This is broadly in line with the increase in elected female MPs over the same period. In 2010, women made up 22% of the elected chamber, this increased to 29% in 2015 and 32% in 2017.

 

Read more about women in Parliament in our post Women in the General Election 2017.

Picture credit: Big Ben by Mariano MantelCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)