But the Conservatives have also selected women disproportionately for the more vulnerable ‘retirement’ seats. There’s no similar skew for Labour’ – their women candidates are evenly spread across the safer and more vulnerable seats.
Both Conservatives and Labour have 9 women MPs standing down who won the 2017 election under their colours (though several have changed party since). But whilst Labour has replaced all but one of these 9 retiring women with new women candidates, the Conservatives have replaced 4 of theirs with men, including giving all three of the safest seats to men (two of whom who are aides to Boris Johnson).
All in all, this pattern of selections flatters the headline figures for numbers of Conservative women candidates, but they’re unlikely to boost the number of women in parliament.
This parliament has seen increasing attention on both #MeToo and the culture of threat that many MPs, particularly female ones, seem exposed to. It’s also been a time when a significant number of relatively young women MPs have stood down. All this makes it a particularly important time to monitor gender composition in politics.
However, there is currently a lack of similar comparative data on ethnic minority representation and class background. These data tend to become available in a more limited way, and only after an election.
There’s definitely more work to be done. But whatever happens in tomorrow’s election, given the polling and the disproportionate selection of Conservative men to their target seats, it seems unlikely that this election is going to see another breakthrough in the number of women who actually win.
Sources: Democracy Club, BBC, House of Commons Library, Electionpolling.co.uk, Britainelects.com.