Gender and candidate selection at the 2011 General Election

Adrian Kavanagh – updated on 11th May 2011 Constituency level figures on candidate selection by gender for the 2011 General Election. First, a look at female candidate selection figures for Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail. (Sinn Fein did not contest five Dail constituencies in 2011) Females accounted for 14.7% of the 75 Fianna Fail candidates (11 in total) – while lower than the level for other parties, this 14.7% actually represented the highest ever percentage of female candidates on a Fianna Fail ticket. Females accounted for 19.5% of Sinn Fein candidates (8 in total). There was no female Sinn Fein candidate in 36 constituencies (but the party did run two female candidates in Mayo) and no female Fianna Fail candidate in 32 constituencies:

Sinn Fein   Fianna Fail
Constituency Male Female Male Female
Carlow-Kilkenny 5 1 1 2 1
Cavan-Monaghan 5 1 1 1 1
Clare 4 2
Cork East 4 1 2
Cork North-Central 4 1 1
Cork North-West 3 1 2
Cork South-Central 5 1 2
Cork South-West 3 1 2
Donegal North-East 3 1 1
Donegal South-West 3 1 1 1
Dublin Central 4 1 1 1
Dublin Mid-West 4 1 1
Dublin North 4 2
Dublin North-Central 3 1 1
Dublin North-East 3 1 1
Dublin North-West 3 1 1
Dublin South 5 1 1
Dublin South-Central 5 1 1
Dublin South-East 4 1 1
Dublin South-West 4 1 2
Dublin West 4 1 2
Dun Laoghaire 4 1 1
Galway East 4 1 2
Galway West 5 1 3
Kerry North-West Limerick 3 1 1
Kerry South 3 1
Kildare North 4 1 1 1
Kildare South 3 1 2
Laois-Offaly 5 1 3
Limerick City 4 1 2
Limerick 3 1
Longford-Westmeath 4 1 2 1
Louth 5 1 2
Mayo 5 2 1 1
Meath East 3 1 2
Meath West 3 1 2
Roscommon-South Leitrim 3 1 2
Sligo-North Leitrim 3 1 2
Tipperary North 3 1 1
Tipperary South 3 1 1
Waterford 4 1 1
Wexford 5 1 2
Wicklow 5 1 2
TOTAL 33 8 64 11

Fine Gael and Labour were the two parties who were the most pro-active in selecting their election candidates early. Females accounted for 15.4% of all Fine Gael candidates (16, in total) and 26.5% of all Labour candidates (18 in total). Hence, there was no female Fine Gael candidates in 28 constituencies (2 female candidates contested the Galway West constituency) and no female Labour Party candidate in 25 constituencies.

Fine Gael Labour
Constituency Male Female Male Female
Carlow-Kilkenny 5 3 1 1
Cavan-Monaghan 5 3 1 1
Clare 4 3 1
Cork East 4 3 2
Cork North-Central 4 2 1 1
Cork North-West 3 2 1 1
Cork South-Central 5 2 1 1 1
Cork South-West 3 3 1
Donegal North-East 3 2 1
Donegal South-West 3 1 1
Dublin Central 4 1 1 1
Dublin Mid-West 4 1 1 1 1
Dublin North 4 2 2
Dublin North-Central 3 2 1
Dublin North-East 3 1 2
Dublin North-West 3 2 1 1
Dublin South 5 2 1 2
Dublin South-Central 5 2 1 3
Dublin South-East 4 1 1 2
Dublin South-West 4 1 1 2
Dublin West 4 2 1 1
Dun Laoghaire 4 1 1 1 1
Galway East 4 4 1 1
Galway West 5 2 2 1
Kerry North-West Limerick 3 2 1
Kerry South 3 2 1
Kildare North 4 2 2
Kildare South 3 1 1
Laois-Offaly 5 3 1 1
Limerick City 4 2 1 1
Limerick 3 3 1
Longford-Westmeath 4 2 1 1 1
Louth 5 2 1 1
Mayo 5 3 1 1
Meath East 3 1 1 1
Meath West 3 2 1 1
Roscommon-South Leitrim 3 2 1
Sligo-North Leitrim 3 2 1
Tipperary North 3 1 1
Tipperary South 3 2 1
Waterford 4 2 1 1
Wexford 5 3 2
Wicklow 5 3 2 1
TOTAL 88 16 50 18

The United Left Alliance grouping had 20 candidates (including 9 People Before Profit Alliance, 9 Socialist Party candidates and one Workers and Unemployed Action Group candidate) with female candidates accounting for 25.0% of these (although females accounted for 44.4% of all the selected People Before Profit candidates). The Green Party had candidates selected for each of the 43 constituencies and they selected eight female candidates (18.6% of current total):

United Left Alliance Greens
Constituency Male Female Male Female
Carlow-Kilkenny 5 1 1
Cavan-Monaghan 5 1
Clare 4 1
Cork East 4 1
Cork North-Central 4 1 1
Cork North-West 3 1 1
Cork South-Central 5 1
Cork South-West 3 1
Donegal North-East 3 1
Donegal South-West 3 1
Dublin Central 4 1
Dublin Mid-West 4 2 1
Dublin North 4 1 1
Dublin North-Central 3 1 1
Dublin North-East 3 1 1
Dublin North-West 3 1 1
Dublin South 5 1 1
Dublin South-Central 5 1 1
Dublin South-East 4 1 1
Dublin South-West 4 1 1
Dublin West 4 1 1
Dun Laoghaire 4 1 1
Galway East 4 1
Galway West 5 1
Kerry North-West Limerick 3 1
Kerry South 3 1
Kildare North 4 1
Kildare South 3 1
Laois-Offaly 5 1 1
Limerick City 4 1 1
Limerick 3 1
Longford-Westmeath 4 1
Louth 5 1
Mayo 5 1
Meath East 3 1
Meath West 3 1
Roscommon-South Leitrim 3 1
Sligo-North Leitrim 3 1 1
Tipperary North 3 1
Tipperary South 3 1 1
Waterford 4 1
Wexford 5 1 1
Wicklow 5 1
TOTAL 15 5 35 8

And finally, the numbers for the “Others” grouping (of which females accounted for 9.3% of the 215 candidates within this grouping of independent and smaller party candidates) and the overall current constituency totals in terms of selected candidates. It should be noted that within this Others grouping, there were 197 non-party candidates (178 male and 19 female – hence 9.6% of independent candidates were female candidates). The other 18 candidates (17 male and 1 female) represented other small parties, such as Fis Nua, the Christian Solidarity Party and the Workers Party.

Other Male Female
Constituency Male Female
Carlow-Kilkenny 5 7 15 4
Cavan-Monaghan 5 3 1 9 5
Clare 4 6 3 13 3
Cork East 4 3 1 11 2
Cork North-Central 4 7 14 1
Cork North-West 3 7 2
Cork South-Central 5 8 15 2
Cork South-West 3 5 0 13 0
Donegal North-East 3 4 1 10 1
Donegal South-West 3 2 1 7 2
Dublin Central 4 8 1 12 4
Dublin Mid-West 4 5 12 2
Dublin North 4 1 8 1
Dublin North-Central 3 2 7 2
Dublin North-East 3 4 10 1
Dublin North-West 3 4 11 1
Dublin South 5 6 1 11 5
Dublin South-Central 5 8 16 2
Dublin South-East 4 8 14 2
Dublin South-West 4 1 9 1
Dublin West 4 1 9 1
Dun Laoghaire 4 6 11 3
Galway East 4 2 1 11 2
Galway West 5 6 1 14 3
Kerry North-West Limerick 3 3 2 9 2
Kerry South 3 5 8 2
Kildare North 4 3 1 10 2
Kildare South 3 2 8 0
Laois-Offaly 5 10 20 1
Limerick City 4 4 11 2
Limerick 3 4 10 0
Longford-Westmeath 4 5 11 4
Louth 5 8 15 1
Mayo 5 4 1 10 5
Meath East 3 1 1 7 2
Meath West 3 5 10 3
Roscommon-South Leitrim 3 3 10 0
Sligo-North Leitrim 3 4 1 11 2
Tipperary North 3 2 1 5 3
Tipperary South 3 1 7 1
Waterford 4 8 14 1
Wexford 5 3 1 13 1
Wicklow 5 13 1 22 2
TOTAL 195 20 480 86

Well under one in six – 15.2% – of the 566 candidates who contested General Election 2011 were female, a level that was 2.2% below the 2007 level of 17.4%.

If the “Others” grouping (Independents and smaller parties) was excluded and selections by the main political parties, as well as the United Left Alliance, instead focused on, the percentage of female candidacies would have stood at 18.9%, a roughly equivalent level to the 19.1% level recorded for the 2007 contest and the 18.9% level recorded for the 2002 election (these figures including candidate numbers for the parties that comprised the United Left Alliance grouping in 2011).

Labour and the United Left Alliance were the parties/groupings with the highest percentage of female candidates.

There was also a tendency for higher levels of female candidacies to be associated with larger (4-seat and 5-seat) constituency sizes. Females just accounted for 13.8% of the candidates who contested the three-seat constituencies, as compared with a level of 15.4% for 4-seat constituencies and 16.2% for 5-seat constituencies. These differences became even more evident when it came to candidate selections by the five largest political parties and the United Left Alliance. In this case, females accounted for 14.4% of the candidates who contested the three-seat constituencies, as compared with a level of 17.6% for 4-seat constituencies and 24.6% for 5-seat constituencies.

There was also a geographical dimension. Females have traditionally been more likely to be selected to contest constituencies in Dublin, but this was not the case for the upcoming 2011 contest with females accounting for just 16.1% of the total number of candidates selected in the Dublin constituencies. Females accounted for a disappointing 13.2% of selected candidates in Leinster and 13.3% in Munster, the regions with the lowest level of female candidacies. The Connacht-Ulster region, where females only accounted for 16.1% of all candidates in 2007, compared much more favourably in 2011 with female candidates accounting for 19.6% of all Connacht-Ulster candidates – the highest level of all of the different regions. Females accounted for 15.2% of all candidates in the urban constituencies (Dublin, Cork North Centrsl, Cork South Central, Limerick City, Galway West) and 15.2% of all candidates in the other (more rural) constituencies.

There were no female candidates running in the following four constituencies: Cork South-West, Kildare South, Limerick and Roscommon-South Leitrim. Clare, Donegal North-East, Dublin North, Kerry North-West Limerick and Wexford may also be added to this list if one is only looking at the five largest parties; Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Green Party and Sinn Fein. In 2007, no female candidate contested Cork South-West, Dublin North-East, Limerick West (now Limerick), Meath West and Roscommon-South Leitrim – no female candidate from one of the six largest parties in that election (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, the Progressive Democrats, Green Party, Sinn Fein) contested Dublin North or Waterford also. In 2002, no female candidate contested Cavan-Monaghan, Cork North-West, Dublin Central, Dublin South West, Kildare North. Kerry North, Limerick West, Tipperary South and Waterford – no female candidate from one of the six largest parties in that election (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, the Progressive Democrats, Green Party, Sinn Fein) contested Sligo-Leitrim also.

Finally it is worth noting that party headquarters do have the power to add candidates to the list of party candidates in a constituency and there is the possibility that they could opt to do so to better balance their parties’ selections gender-wise. However, the sense for the 2011 election is that this does not seem to have been a major concern for the parties; candidates generally seem to have been added instead on the basis of geographically balancing party tickets. Indeed females only accounted for 5 of the 27 candidates directly added by party headquarters for this election.

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About Adrian Kavanagh

Lecturer in Maynooth University Department of Geography.
This entry was posted in Candidates, Election data, Gender and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Gender and candidate selection at the 2011 General Election

  1. Pingback: Political Angst – Where are all the women? | Bronwen Maher

  2. Pingback: Gender and candidate selection (via Irish General Election 2011 Facts and Figures) « Cork Feminista

  3. really nice breakdown, but horrifying stats relating to lack of female candidates, which is shocking in this day and age

    maybe enforced gender quotas may not be a bad way to go, for 2-3 election cycles, and then remove them…. might be more of a tradition of gender equality by then… something has to give!

    cheers for sharing all this hard work!

  4. Very depressing statistics indeed. Maybe if we had had more equality in the last government , we might not be in such a huge financial mess. Women are not regarded as equal citizens in this country still. Less pay, less promotion, less CEOs of companies,even less women as managers at senior level in the civil service. You would think that the public service at least would have to have equal representation considering tax payers money funds the public service but no. In health ,it is the same policy, discrimination against women. For example, we have seen mammograms taken out of all the smaller hospitals and only available in 8 centres. Breastcheck mammograms are only available from age 50-64 yrs. But the 720 women between 35-50 yrs who get breast cancer annually are told to wait until they have lumps before they can get access to a mammogram. 25% of them are thus metastatic ( incurable) at first presentation because they are found too late. This age group lose jobs, have little children and lose their fertlilty as a result of advanced cancer diagnoses in this age group because of this ridiculous rule. All to save money for the HSE. Surely,you don’t withdraw access to early detection facilities in the midst of an epidemic but that is what has happened here. We really need women’s voices to be listened to and not drowned out as the last 15 years of Fianna Fail has done. I really think Fine Gael will show us respect for our achievments and a renewal of belief in our strong, conscientious women.

  5. Pingback: Gender Quotas On the Way - The Electoral (Amendment)(Political Funding) Bill 2011 - Page 60

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