Published 13th July 2017
Principal councils in England and Wales are male dominated, with women and ethnic minorities under-represented according to a report by the Fawcett Society and Local Government Information Unit which recommend statutory maternity leave, funding childcare and allowing councillors to attend and vote remotely.
Councils said "faster progress" was needed, without "imposing structures".
The report, which draws on online surveys, feedback from public meetings and interviews with female council leaders, concluded that local government in England and Wales was "stuck in the past".
Among its headline findings are that one in three local councillors are female, women account for just 17% of top council jobs while men outnumber women by six to one in terms of jobs in finance and resources departments.
While women make up 78% of the local authority workforce, they account for just a third of chief executives. Of the 35 county, unitary and metropolitan councils in England that had elections in May, only two of them - Oxfordshire and Durham - elected more than 40% women.
In Wales, female representation was below 20% in Blaenau Gwent, Ceredigion, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Wrexham and Anglesey.
The report identifies significant barriers to entry for women, particularly those with young children and caring responsibilities. Of the 353 councils in England, only 4% have any kind of maternity, paternity or parental leave policy in place.
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