Which Oxfordshire councils have an equal gender balance?

Which Oxfordshire councils have an equal gender balance?
Photo by LSE Library / Unsplash

Is local government dominated by men? Research suggests it is.

A 2023 study found that just 36% of local councillors are women. Of the 382 county, district and unitary councils in Britain, only 18 have as many women as men. But the picture varies from area to area – and some Oxfordshire councils are doing better than others.

Council by council

For International Women’s Day, we looked into the gender balance of Oxfordshire’s councils. Oxford City Council, we found, is the only one with a female majority. 51% of councillors in the City are women.

But the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire are not far behind. South is 47% female, and Vale 44%.

The northern districts fare less well. West Oxfordshire is 31% female, and Cherwell (which covers Banbury and Bicester) just 27%.

Oxfordshire County Council itself is little better than Cherwell, with just 28% women councillors – a surprise given that you might expect the better representation in the City, South & Vale to show through in their respective county councillors. One possible reason might be that counties operate under different regulations to districts: county council meetings are held in the daytime while district/city meetings take place in the evenings.

Three of Oxfordshire’s councils are led by women: Liz Leffman at the County Council (LibDem), Susan Brown at the City Council (Labour), and Bethia Thomas at the Vale of White Horse (LibDem).

Party by party

Turning back to Oxfordshire County Council, we looked at the gender balance by party.

The Liberal Democrats are the closest to parity: 40% of their county councillors are women (8 women, 12 men).

Labour, surprisingly, is some way back at 29%. The Conservative cohort is 19% women. At present, the small Green group is entirely male.

Finally, half of Oxfordshire’s current MPs are female: Layla Moran (LibDem, Oxford West & Abingdon), Victoria Prentis (Conservative, Banbury), and Anneliese Dodds (Labour, Oxford East). Not all candidates for the upcoming general election have yet been announced: so far the Conservatives, LibDems, and Labour have each announced two women candidates, while the Greens have put forward an impressive four women (from seven constituencies). Reform UK’s candidates are all male so far.

Interested in standing for a local council? Ask Her To Stand is a national initiative to encourage more women to stand for election. Oxfordshire County Council has a dedicated page with information on becoming a councillor.