Islands Matter 6: Women in Manx Politics: Small island democracy?

Prof Peter Edge (Oxford Brookes University), Dr Alex Powell (Oxford Brookes University), Dr Catriona Mackie (University College Isle of Man) On Thursday 3rd March, three members of a multidisciplinary team will discuss a new project, Women in Manx Politics. The project aims to explore the changing trends in Manx politics and identify any barriers to women becoming involved, through a series of talks, focus groups, interviews, articles and blogs on women and politics. The webinar will focus on the context for the project, the key aims and methodologies, and the potential outcomes.

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Women in Manx Politics: Small island democracy?

When the House of Keys Election Act was passed in 1881, the Isle of Man became the first country in the world to extend the vote to women. However, it wasn’t until the introduction of universal suffrage in 1919 that women became eligible to stand for election, and it was 1933 before the first woman was elected as Member of the House of Keys (MHK). Since then, only 23 women have served as MHKs. The lack of female representation was noted by Lord Lisvane, in his 2016 review of the functioning of Tynwald, the island’s legislature. At that time, only two of the 24 MHKs were women, and no women sat in the upper chamber, the Legislative Council. Since then, there has been a shift towards a more representative government, although there is still some way to go. The 2021 General Election saw ten women elected to the House of Keys, and four of the eight elected members of the Legislative Council are currently women.

A new multidisciplinary project funded by Culture Vannin aims to explore the role and experiences of women in Tynwald and consider ways of facilitating more women in Manx politics. The project has both a historical strand and a contemporary strand. The historical strand will seek to discern trends in women standing for the House of Keys and their representation in the Manx press. The contemporary strand will explore the experiences of women in Manx politics since 2000, through a series of qualitative interviews with women who chose to stand for election and those who were elected. Using focus groups, the decision-making processes of those women who considered standing for election, but ultimately chose not to do so, will also be studied. A third strand will examine the Manx position in light of broader academic research on women in democratic politics.

The Project Team

Peter Edge (Oxford Brookes University)

Dr Alex Powell (Oxford Brookes University)

Dr Catriona Mackie (University College Isle of Man)

Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards (Edge Hill University)