THE Scottish Government today faced demands to end the boardroom culture of “inequality” which is freezing women out of top posts across the country.
• Labour calls for end to gender quotas on the boards of public bodies
The SNP and Tories recently voted down its proposal for the board of the new single police service to contain at a minimum of 40% women, and minimum of 40% men, to ensure equal representation.
But Labour’s Jenny Marra told MSPs today: “Gender equality at boardroom level is unlikely to happen organically in the next 13 years unless we take bigger and bolder steps to make it happen.”
She added; “No matter how much we want it to be irrelevant, the reality of the culture for those seeking positions at Scotland’s boardroom level is that gender does matter and it is usually to the detriment of women.”
National sports body sportscotland has a geneder balance of 78% men on its board, according to Ms Marra, while the average percentage of women on Scotland’s public limited boards is just 11%.
But sports minister Shona Robison accused Ms Marra of “petty, political attack” against the SNP and undermining the prospect of building a consensus on the issue.
“It can also be suggested that its patronising to provide support to enable women to achieve that position,” she said.
“For me I think its patronising to assume that there aren’t equal numbers of equally suitable male and female candidates and its worse than patronising to assume that the best candidate just happened to turn out to be male on so many occasions.”
But Judith Robertson, head of Oxfam in Scotland backed the plans.
She said: “We should do everything we can to remove barriers to equal participation. Measures such as the 40% quota being proposed by Jenny Marra have proven a useful tool in boosting women’s participation in governance in many countries and will give a much-needed boost to women’s representation on public bodies within Scotland.”