Wednesday 19 June 2019

The trouble with glass ceilings

Labour TD Joanna Tuffy,
who decided to boycott a
female-only TD and
senators' meeting last
Labour TD Joanna Tuffy, who decided to boycott a female-only TD and senators' meeting last week

•I am in strong agreement with Labour TD Joanna Tuffy in regard to her decision to boycott the female-only TD and senators' meeting that took place last week, on November 9.

As a female student currently studying electoral politics in the National University of Maynooth, I find this a form of segregation that is unproductive and will generate a noticeable and unsustainable divide between female and male politicians.

I am aware that the women of Ireland have fought hard over centuries to achieve the right to vote, having been rejected by the patriarchal society of the past. Thus, is it not a contradiction to repeat and practise the negative gender divide between male and female in relation to politics? If the issue was to be reversed, and a male-only meeting was to be orchestrated, would this not create mayhem in a society that has only recently achieved gender equality? Definitely!

We are in a 'modern' political system that has not altered greatly in relation to the number of female TDs and senators elected to the Dail. In the 2007 General Election, females only represented 17pc of the elected candidates; while in the present Government, only 25 women sit in the Dail, in comparison to 141 male seats -- thus reducing the female percentage to 15.2pc.

Although I acknowledge female representation is an issue that needs to be addressed, I feel that this can be achieved by introducing sustainable measures, such as introducing gender quotas within parties, or promoting politics to women in a more adequate way -- by referring to the political achievements of the female politicians of our past, such as Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese, and current politicians such as Labour Minister Joan Burton.

However, if female politicians create a gender divide in the political atmosphere, it could potentially impact female candidates negatively as it may impinge on their ability to obtain votes, as they may give the illusion of a gender bias.

Thus, they will put themselves in jeopardy, as they could possibly lose votes from male supporters in the future.

Despite, the imbalance of the male-to-female ratio within the Dail, female candidates have representation that is equivalent to male politicians.

Therefore, this attempt to segregate gender within Irish politics highlights a return to the political thinking of our past and the recreation of a gender bias.

This creates a poor image of our female politicians as a whole, and is unfair to both male politicians and to the Irish electorate.

Amy Brennan
Ros na Ri, Commons Rd,
Navan, Co Meath

Irish Independent

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