I figured that it might be worth keeping a bit of a watching brief on the gender breakdown of various party lists as they are announced. Anjum has already written a great post on the careful placement of women on National's list, and Act's list came out yesterday with a remarkable lack of ladies. The Greens have already announced and hopefully one of us will get to that in the near future, while Labour's is due at the end of the month, and I'm aware that some of the extra-Parliamentary parties, like the Alliance, have already released their lists. Plenty of fodder for my calculator to be sure!
The idea of this analysis is not to say "you should vote for the party with the most women candidates." The point is to provide some information that may give you some insight to the role of women within the party in question, and to also highlight the women who are standing in this year's General Election.
When we our current and immediate past Prime Minister have both been female, a Queen is our Monarch, a woman sits in the Speaker's Chair, and XXers fill a variety of high profile roles in our democratic institutions it is sometimes easy to forget that our current Parliament has only 40 women MPs, out of 122. That's around 33%, when women are a little over 50% of the general population. Better then most other countries in the world, but still a long way from parity.
And how do women get to be MPs? They need to rise up through party organisations to be nominated for electorates and for list spots, and in order to actually make it into the House they need to be candidates in winnable positions. So it's important to not only consider how many women a party puts up as its representatives, but also whether they are likely to get that opportunity in a practical sense.
First to Act. I'm going to be uncharitable and assume that the mystery candidate at No. 5 will be a man, but I'm happy to be wrong and will update the figures below if it turns out to be a she.
Historical representation of women:
Since first entering Parliament in 1996 Act has had 14 MPs in total, and six of these have been women (according to Wikipedia), which makes 43%. One has been Maori (Donna Awatere-Huata, currently in porridge), another Chinese (Kenneth Wang, who is a candidate again this time), and the rest have been of Pakeha or European descent. As far as I'm aware all of the MPs have identified as heterosexual.
Current representation of women:
Act currently has two MPs, of whom one is a woman (Heather Roy), which makes 50%. Roy is also Deputy Leader of the party.
2008 Act Party list:
Women represented across the whole list: 7 out of 60 (15%)
Top 5 - One (Heather Roy at 2) 1/5 = 20%
Top 10 - Two (Roy and Hilary Calvert at 6) 2/10 = 20%
Top 20 - Five (Roy, Calvert, Lyn Murphy at 14, Frances Denz at 16, Beryl Good at 20) 5/20 = 25%
Top 30 - Five (as for Top 20) 5/30 = 17%
Top 40 - Five (as for Top 20) 5/40 = 13%
Top 50 - Seven (as for Top 20 plus Pat Martin* at 45, Kathleen McCabe at 46) 7/50 = 13%
Updated: Top 60 - Nine (as for Top 50 plus Toni Severin at 54 and Jean Thompson at 58) 9/60 = 15%
Idiot/Savant has further analysis of the Act list, particularly who has gone up and down. Many seem to be brand new to parliamentary candidacy, and that makes it hard to really get much of a picture based on anything more than their names. Based on that skant information it looks to be a largely white and male list.
2008 Act Electorate candidates will be analysed closer to the election, once it seems like they have finished announcing. I'm aware that blogger Lindsay Mitchell is standing for Act in Hutt South, but is absent from their list, and there may be other women who make similar choices.
Likely future female representation for Act:
At the moment it seems likely that the same two MPs will be returned for Act following the 2008 General Election, i.e. Rodney Hide and Heather Roy. This would maintain 50% representation for women. If Act receive enough party votes to bring more than 2 MPs into Parliament they will need to get over 4% to bring in another woman (Hilary Calvert at 6). And if Kenneth Wang wins Botany (without a significant increase in party vote) that will knock Roy out of Parliament and mean Act has only men representing it in the House.
* I'm going to assume Pat Martin is a woman, based on the highly unreliable method of putting the name into Google and seeing what came out - I couldn't identify anyone who was definitely this person but most who came up seemed to be female.
Updated 22nd September 2011, after comments from an ACT member confirming that two candidates in the 50s were women. As explained directly above, for Pat Martin, my method of working out genders for people who the party provides no profile or photo for is not very reliable, and I am very open to further intell and amendment.