The gender balance of witnesses giving evidence at Holyrood has been brought under the spotlight in a new report published today by the Scottish Parliament.
The report, which was commissioned to explore the gender balance across those giving evidence to committees, shows that since 1999 there has been a 12.3 percentage points increase in the number of women giving evidence at committees. However it also shows that women make up 37% of the witnesses at formal committee meetings.
The Scottish Parliament’s Conveners Group has considered the report’s findings and agreed the key strands to help inform an action plan to ensure the balance of witnesses at Scottish Parliament committees are more reflective of wider society.
Chair of the Conveners Group and Deputy Presiding Officer, Christine Grahame MSP, said:
“As a Convener for many years myself, I know the significant effort Committees put into ensuring they hear from a broad range of voices and opinions as they scrutinise legislation and Government policy. That effort has led to substantial progress since 1999, including in relation to improving gender diversity of witnesses.
“That is why the Conveners Group has agreed a series of measures which are designed to make further improvements during the course of this session.”
To address the issues raised within the report, the Conveners Group agreed to a number of steps including:
- Improving data capture and reporting mechanisms to ensure greater transparency around the diversity of those giving evidence.
- Expanding the data collected to include other aspects of Committee work such as fact finding visits and informal meetings.
- Additional guidance and training for Committees.
- Support and guidance for external organisations and training for potential witnesses.
Read the committee report.
The Conveners Group is forum where the Conveners from all Scottish Parliament committees meet to take a strategic view on the operation of committees.
Chaired by Deputy Presiding Officer Christine Grahame MSP, the group also facilitates liaison between the Committees, the Parliamentary Bureau and the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body.
Read about the Conveners Group.