NICOLA Sturgeon has said “sexist” portrayals of female politicians in the media – such as the recent mocked-up image of her in a tartan bikini – could deter women from entering politics.
The First Minister said it remains harder for women to succeed in politics than men, but said the elevation of several women to top positions in Holyrood represents “big progress”.
Some of things that are said about women in politics, the way you are characterised, the way you are described, the focus on how you look and what you wear...it is toughNicola Sturgeon
She attacked the Sun newspaper’s mocked-up image of her using a photo of pop star Miley Cyrus riding a wrecking-ball. “That’s sexist, there’s no doubt about it,” she told ITV breakfast TV presenter Lorraine Kelly.
When asked whether it was harder to be a woman in politics, Ms Sturgeon said: “It is to some extent.
“Some of things that are said about women in politics, the way you are characterised, the way you are described, the focus on how you look and what you wear… it is tough.
“I think it is changing for the better, and the more women we have in senior positions in politics, the more that will change and the faster it will change.”
She added: “[Sexism] does make me angry on behalf of younger women, because if a young woman who might think politics is something they are interested in, if [newspapers] write something about me that is really derogatory, really personal, if that makes them less likely to want to come into politics, then that is a real shame.
“I don’t want to sound too pious about this, but if I can help change that for the women coming after me then I am really keen to do that.”
Holyrood’s Presiding Officer, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives and Labour’s most senior MSP are all women.
“That’s big progress,” Ms Sturgeon said. “There is still a long way to go, and we need to keep moving that progress forward.”
Ms Sturgeon later said that she believed “the time has come for quotas” of women in politics and beyond “because the pace of change, without that, is too slow”.
Answering questions after a speech at the London School of Economics she said: “We don’t have a meritocracy right now because it we did we would have gender balance.
“The pace towards that has been painfully slow and I think it is time for us to give it a good kick up the backside and get it there.”
She said a simple solution to resolving the gender imbalance of the House of Lords would be to abolish it.
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