“Typical MP looks male”

Rob Salmond thinks he knows why National has more male candidates:

. . . National leaves everything to its local branch, to simply vote up the candidate they like. They vote in complete isolation from the broader needs of the party – they focus only on their area.

A simple vote in a single seat election like this (the “seat” here is the right to stand for National in a particular electorate) is well known to advantage males. It is a lowest common denominator effect, where a male candidate – by virtue of entrenched mental images of what a “typical” MP look like – is more likely to be the one that the fewest people object to. As a psychological level, candidates who in any way represent a change to the status quo face an uphill battle in a single-seat election, as people who have no reason to object to the status quo (through either disinterest or design) feel some level of threat. . .

What utter tosh.

How could anyone think a typical MP looks male in the 21st century?

We’ve had two women Prime Ministers, several other female co-leaders, lots of women ministers and MPs. We’ve also had and have MPs of both genders of a variety of ethnicities.

If there ever was a typical MP look-alike there is no longer.

If Salmond had looked at the two women candidates selected by National electorates this year he’d realise how silly his supposition is:

Sarah Dowie who won the Invercargill selection could hardly look less like sitting MP Eric Roy:

shoes 2

Taranaki King Country  candidate Barbara Kuriger looks very different from retiring MP Shane Adern.

Both women were selected in a transparent and democratic process by members in the electorate.

And while both look very different from the men they are working very hard to replace they do share their National Party values, commitment to their electorates and strong desire to serve them well.

The problem with gender balance is not National’s fair and democratic selection process.

As a party insider I can say unequivocally that there is no preconceived notion of any typical MP look-alike among members. In any selections I’ve been involved in, delegates didn’t care about gender they were seeking to get the best people for the job.

One reason other parties have a better gender balance is that they have more list MPs.

Good list MPs work hard. But electorate MPs have less choice about the demands on their time and energy and women who want a more active role in parenting can find it too difficult to balance them both.

Parliament and life as an MP aren’t family-friendly.

Improving that would do more to help attract more women than reducing democracy within the National Party.

2 Responses to “Typical MP looks male”

  1. Andrei says:

    Ecclesiastes 3
    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

    Parliament and life as an MP aren’t family-friendly.

    Improving that would do more to help attract more women

    No – we need to remember the human being has a life cycle and a life span at this time of about eighty years

    The peak reproductive years of an individual begin in their late teens and decline after thirty years of age (for both men and women but markedly more so for women)

    It takes about twenty years to raise a child to adulthood

    But while fertility declines with age, experience and wisdom (hopefully) increase.

    Thus, I put it to you, those putting themselves forward for high office should have reached a level of maturity that their family responsibilities at a highly focussed and intense level should have more or less been completed.

    Alas we live in the age of the professional politician, people whose entire life from University is all about gaining a seat in the halls of power and it is probably the Nikki Kayes and Jacinda Arderns of this world who do more to shut out normal women from politics than any supposed gender bias

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  2. Gravedodger says:

    Any dilution of the best candidate for a role will fall within the parameters of unforeseen outcomes.
    The stupid Ward system often coupled with a residential requirement inevitably results in a candidate of significantly lesser quality in one ward and other outstanding potential representatives residing in another ward being electorally ignored.

    We only have one Prime Minister and he will live in one of some sixty electorates and by and large the best person will rise to lead.

    Quota, residence, gender, orientation, ethnicity, age, background may well play a part in selection but once “required” will inevitably have a negative outcome’
    The best brain damaged, Turkmenistan born, lapsed Islamist amputee may read well as giving diversity yet unable to speak in understandable language to enable communication with colleagues and constituents might be seen by some as a rather stupid outcome, however well intentioned.

    King 5, Adern 6, and Mahuta 7 says it all really.
    Old warhorse from 1984 when Lange was leader and PM, 66 years old and very little more to offer, a numpty with zero life skills outside the beltway and a Maori princess with significant inability for self motivation are the three top females in Mr c’s entourage, and Mr c has a poke at Nationals list. Hahahaha
    Give me strength.

    Every single retiring National MP would fit very well in the top 10% of the Labour caucus to represent the country on ability and who retires from the NZLP, sheesh.
    And for further evidence of the dearth of talent such monstrously stupid representative aims discover, we have the stallion that became a gelding then a mayor and later MP, retired in a sea of bitterness and now re-emerges as a Mana Candidate to challenge the scion of Ngai Tahu royalty Rino Tirikatene, what could possibly go wrong?

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