Report calls for time-limited quotas and default flexible working

female doctor helping patient


Positions of power in every sector of our society are dominated by men, according to the Fawcett Society’s Sex and Power Index, which is calling for time-limited quotas and default flexible working among other possible solutions.

The Index reveals that women make up just 6% of FTSE 100 CEOs, 16.7% Supreme Court Justices, 17.6% of national newspaper editors, 26% of cabinet ministers and 32% of MPs. It comes as the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square – suffragist Millicent Fawcett – is to be unveiled this week.

The Index shows that women make up:


  • 26% of cabinet ministers, 34.5% of those who attend Cabinet
  • 50% of the Shadow Cabinet
  • 32% of MPs
  • 33% of select committee chairs
  • 26% of peers in the House of Lords
  • None of the metro mayors and just 11% of combined Authority representatives
  • 17.5% of Police and Crime Commissioners
  • 17% of council leaders and 33% of councillors in England

Public Life

  • 16.7% Supreme Court Justices
  • 26% of University Vice Chancellors
  • 38% of Secondary School Headteachers
  • 31.6% of NHS Trust chairs


  • 17.6% of national newspaper editors
  • 74% of top selling magazines but just 10% of current affairs
  • 16.4% of film Directors
  • 30.9% of Producers
  • 32.3% of casts of British films
  • 91% of prostitute characters & 91% of housekeeper roles
  • 65% of theatre audiences but only 39% of casts and 28% of playwrights


  • 6% of FTSE 100 CEOs
  • 9.8% of executive roles
  • 27.7% of all directorships

Art galleries & statues

  • 21.7% of Chairs of art galleries and museums
  • 34% of Directors
  • 2.7% of statues

The Index says that where there is data available Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women, or disabled women, are even less likely to be represented. BAME women make up approximately 7% of the UK’s total population – but just 4% of MPs. There are only two women MPs in the Commons who identify as disabled people. There are no BAME women at the top of FTSE 100 organisations.

The report calls for:

  • A time-limited use of quotas across public bodies and the boards of large corporate organisations, enabled by law. For other organisations who cannot countenance quota systems, the report calls for targets to be set and an action plan to be published.
  • The Government to legislate for all roles to be advertised on a flexible working basis, unless there is a business reason for them not to be, and for more roles available on part-time or job-share basis.
  • The immediate implementation of Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010 to gather candidate monitoring data, extended to include local government.
  • Arts funding should to be tied to a proactive policy of gender equal representation in arts, culture and memorials, which aims to redress this imbalance and sets a target of gender equal representation.


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