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Female under-representation: What does it look like in Perth and Kinross?

Rebecca McClune and Helen Reid of Gender Equality Perth. Picture: Steve MacDougall.

Women’s representation has been the centre of much discussion and active campaigning for decades.

Under-representation has been highlighted time and again in all walks of life and all geographical areas.

Taylor Waggoner
Taylor Waggoner has set up Perth’s Women to help tackle inequality. Picture: Phil Hannah

We look at the issue from a Perth and Kinross perspective to gauge what the main issues are in terms of gender representation and inequality.

In this three-part series, we will examine:

  • How women are represented across the area,
  • The under-representation of women in local politics, and
  • How the Covid pandemic has impacted upon gender-based violence.

Today we’re looing at what is being done to improve representation.

What are some of the main issues?

Women’s under-representation is something that has been noted across Scotland.

For example, figures last month showed that only 32% of officers at Police Scotland are female – significantly less that the 51.1% of women who make up the wider population.

And on a more local level, the under-representation of women is also noticeable.

In Perth, there are more statues of fish than of women, with the Fair Maid statue on the High Street the only one of a woman.

Gender Equality Perth trustee Rebecca McClune believes greater female representation is key to addressing equality.

She said: “The significant lack of gender representation within the structures of UK society has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.

Gender Equality Perth
Rebecca McClune. Picture: Steve MacDougall.

“Addressing gender representation within Perth and Kinross is fundamental to our goal of achieving equality within the region.

“It is our belief that the decisions that impact the lives of Perth and Kinross residents are best made by representatives with a diverse range of experiences that can reflect the make-up of our community.

“We are working towards projects that will create a clearer picture of the status of gender representation within Perth and Kinross, what the effects of this are and possible ways it could be improved for the benefit of all.”

What is being done to address the issue?

Organisations are working to ensure local women are better represented across the area.

Taylor Waggoner set up community-led movement, Perth’s Women only last month to tackle women’s under-representation.

The campaign is sharing stories of Perth and Kinross women who have shaped local history.

They include Errol-born Victoria Drummond who was the UK’s first female engineer and used her skills to save 49 lives aboard a ship during the Second World War.

Taylor Waggoner
Taylor Waggoner. Picture: Phil Hannah.

And it is looking for more spaces – whether it’s shop windows, cafes or even Instagram feeds – so it can fill the city with the stories of remarkable female figures.

Already, more than 600 people – including women and men – have come out in support of Perth’ Women.

Taylor said: “So far the reception has been fantastic. I’ve spoken with so many different groups around Perth who are all excited about the project.

“I’ve been surprised by the amount of people who really want to get involved. We’ve now got a small team of people working on a newsletter.

“Local businesses have even taken it upon themselves to advertise the campaign on their shop front windows.

I think those two small things really speak to how important this movement is.”

She added: “There has really only been support. Many men have come forward to tell their own stories of women in the area that they admire.”

Meanwhile, Gender Equality Perth are continuing to tackle unconscious biases after setting up earlier this year.

It believes inequality between men and women begins before children are even born and is reflected in everything from the words we use to the toys we choose for them.

And organisers say raising awareness among parents is one way of addressing the issue.

Rebecca said: “My eyes were really opened to the realities of gender stereotyping when I was pregnant with my first child, and four years on I’m still surprised by the cultural biases we encounter on a daily basis.”