'Not enough women in top council posts'

NOT enough is being done to encourage women to come forward for top council jobs, it has been claimed.

Only six of the 26 most senior council officers across Oxfordshire are women, and only 13 of the 46 cabinet or executive posts are held by female councillors.

West Oxfordshire District Council has the least gender balance. None of the authority’s cabinet, 13 sub committee chairmen or its most senior officers are women.

Cherwell District Council does not fare well either, as only one of 10 executive posts and one of the four most senior officers are women.

By comparison, Oxfordshire County Council has four women on its nine-strong cabinet, while four of the six cabinet member at South Oxfordshire District Council are women.

Liz Leffman, Lib Dem member for Charlbury and Finstock on WODC, said: “I was startled to discover there were no women in the cabinet.

“At least 50 per cent of the population is female and they bring a different perspective, but they are not represented in West Oxfordshire.”

WODC deputy leader Mark Booty said there had been female cabinet members at the council in the past.

He said: “It is about bringing in the people that will bring the best for the electorate, whatever race, creed or sex they are.”

Mr Booty said councillor Verena Hunt had stepped down from the cabinet in May for health reasons and the position had not been replaced to save money.

Ken Atack, Cherwell executive member for finance, said: “There is no bias and it’s down to individuals to come forward to show they want to be a councillor.”

Les Sibley, Labour CDC member for Bicester West, said more women were becoming involved in local politics.

He said: “There has been a small improvement of the gender balance.

At Oxford City Council , only one of four senior officers and two of 10 executive board members are women.

Council leader Bob Price said most councils needed more female representation, but women were often tied down by domestic duties more so than men.

SODC had the largest proportion of female councillors, with 21 of 48.

Council leader Ann Ducker said: “Not enough is done to encourage women to come forward. I never look to see whether they are female or male, I take the best person for the job.”

Jean Fooks, county council Lib Dem member for Summertown & Wolvercote, wondered if WODC was “trying enough” to provide proper representation.

But Mr Booty rejected the idea of all-women shortlists for council jobs or elections.

The district council previously employed Cath James as strategic director for environment, but left the post last year.

She was given a £110,000 pay-off as part of a compromise agreement, which means further claims cannot be brought through the courts or tribunals.

 

West Oxfordshire DC

 

 


  • 11 of 49 councillors
  • None of six cabinet members
  • None of four most senior officers
  • Staff: 149 women to 121 men

 

 


Oxfordshire County Council

 

 


  • 22 of 74 councillors
  • Four of nine cabinet members
  • Two of six senior officers
  • Staff: 4,358 women, 1,646 men
  • School staff: 11,847 women 1,751 men

 

 


Cherwell District Council

 

 


  • 11 of 50 councillors
  • One of 10 executive posts
  • One of four most senior officers
  • Staff: 238 women, 230 men

 

 


Oxford City Council

 

 


  • 14 of 48 councillors
  • Two of 10 city executive board members
  • One of four senior officers
  • Staff: 412 women to 792 men

 

 

Vale of White Horse District Council

 

 


  • 22 of 51 councillors
  • Two of five cabinet members
  • One of four most senior officers
  • Staff: 113 women, 56 men
     

 

 

South Oxfordshire District Council

 

  • 21 of 48 councillors
  • Four of six cabinet members
  • One of four most senior officers
  • Staff: 138 women, 102 men

 

 

 

 

Comments (4)

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10:32am Mon 3 Sep 12

Quentin Walker says...

If women don't have the ambition to seek out the subject posts for themselves without 'encouragement', then are they going to posses the drive to succeed in them?
If women don't have the ambition to seek out the subject posts for themselves without 'encouragement', then are they going to posses the drive to succeed in them? Quentin Walker

11:11am Mon 3 Sep 12

Lord Palmerstone says...

“At least 50 per cent of the population is female and they bring a different perspective, but they are not represented in West Oxfordshire"
And .5% are convicted felons,.025% are lunatics,.002% believe the Earth is flat and the same percentage live next door to extra-terrestrials.
Your point Ms. Leffman is?
Could you concentrate on bringing down record levels of council taxation and controlling fraudulent housing benefit claims rather than fretting about sex?
“At least 50 per cent of the population is female and they bring a different perspective, but they are not represented in West Oxfordshire" And .5% are convicted felons,.025% are lunatics,.002% believe the Earth is flat and the same percentage live next door to extra-terrestrials. Your point Ms. Leffman is? Could you concentrate on bringing down record levels of council taxation and controlling fraudulent housing benefit claims rather than fretting about sex? Lord Palmerstone

9:14pm Mon 3 Sep 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

Do a poll. One for men, one for women - asking if they prefer a male or female boss or no preference.

Last one I saw was around 2 years ago

The responses for men were strongly in the "no preference" category.
The responses for women were strongly in the "male" category.

In order that a more balanced workplace can be accomplished, women are going to have to start aspiring to have a female manager.
Do a poll. One for men, one for women - asking if they prefer a male or female boss or no preference. Last one I saw was around 2 years ago The responses for men were strongly in the "no preference" category. The responses for women were strongly in the "male" category. In order that a more balanced workplace can be accomplished, women are going to have to start aspiring to have a female manager. Andrew:Oxford

10:38am Tue 4 Sep 12

Man on the Green says...

It comes as little surprise that West Oxfordshire should come bottom of the class (or top of the league of shame!). The still murky tale of how they treated their Strategic Director (and then fiddled the books to hide the pay-off) has all the hallmarks of gender bias. It really is time for the Chief Executive and the Council Leader to come clean over this.

As for the other councils, having watched all too many of their meetings (and indeed even protested on occasion at the clearly discriminatory language, practices and behaviour of senior councillors and indeed officers too), I can but say that it is high time for this debate.

The antediluvian attitudes displayed by many councillors (and senior officers too) are not just out of tune with the modern world, they have much to do with the alienation of large swathes of the voting public, and are quite literally often quite repellent (they have put many people - not only women - off from standing for public office or getting involved in local politics).

It's always best to start by tackling the most blatant offenders, so I would hope that WODC will now be put under the searchlight. It needs to start by acknowledging previous misconduct, sanctioning those responsible, and bringing about a step change in its working practices. This is a deeply troubled administration, and the cracks are showing more and more clearly.

This matter should be tabled as the primary item for debate at the next Cabinet meeting, and in a properly functioning administration would lead to the immediate resignation of at least two very senior figures (and if they don't resign, they should be given their marching orders).
It comes as little surprise that West Oxfordshire should come bottom of the class (or top of the league of shame!). The still murky tale of how they treated their Strategic Director (and then fiddled the books to hide the pay-off) has all the hallmarks of gender bias. It really is time for the Chief Executive and the Council Leader to come clean over this. As for the other councils, having watched all too many of their meetings (and indeed even protested on occasion at the clearly discriminatory language, practices and behaviour of senior councillors and indeed officers too), I can but say that it is high time for this debate. The antediluvian attitudes displayed by many councillors (and senior officers too) are not just out of tune with the modern world, they have much to do with the alienation of large swathes of the voting public, and are quite literally often quite repellent (they have put many people - not only women - off from standing for public office or getting involved in local politics). It's always best to start by tackling the most blatant offenders, so I would hope that WODC will now be put under the searchlight. It needs to start by acknowledging previous misconduct, sanctioning those responsible, and bringing about a step change in its working practices. This is a deeply troubled administration, and the cracks are showing more and more clearly. This matter should be tabled as the primary item for debate at the next Cabinet meeting, and in a properly functioning administration would lead to the immediate resignation of at least two very senior figures (and if they don't resign, they should be given their marching orders). Man on the Green

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