Analysis: Encouraging steps made towards gender diversity

Gender EqualityA number of steps have been made towards greater gender diversity within the UK this week with the government re-shuffle leading to a more feminine feel in the cabinet, the Church of England voting overwhelmingly in favour of a proposed legislation to appoint female bishops, and lastly the announcement that superhero Thor is set to become a woman.

Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled his new look cabinet Tuesday (15 July) morning with several high profile positions being filled by female MPs.

The new appointments included minister for women and equalities Nicky Morgan taking over from Michael Gove as education secretary. Liz Truss has been appointed as environment secretary. Esther McVey will remain in her role as minister for employment and disabilities, McVey will now also attend cabinet meetings.

Jenny Willott Liberal Democrat MP told Recruiter that the changes made in the cabinet re-shuffle are a “step in the right direction”.

“There are some great women in Parliament and just as the management of companies should reflect the diversity of their workforce and the wider population, the government should do the same,” she added.

The appointments will bring the government in line with the gender diversity targets set by the Lord Davis report to get more women on boards with 25% of cabinet positions now held by women.

However, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told Sky News that the re-shuffle would be “too little, too late” and if the prime minister was serious about having women in his cabinet “he has had four years to do so”.

“There are only three women in the cabinet of between 20 and 30 people at the moment and I think this is going to look really like a last-minute worry about votes because he knows that he has got a real blind spot when it comes to women,” she added.

A day before the cabinet re-shuffle announcement, the General Synod of the Church of England gave its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England.

The vote in the General Synod on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod.

In total, the three houses (the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity) voted 351 in favour, 72 against and just 10 abstentions were recorded.

Willott told Recruiter that she was “delighted” the barriers to appointing women bishops in the Church of England have now been removed.

“Around a third of ministers are women, and they have a lot more to give to the Church. I think this is an important step towards the future for the Anglican Church,” she said.

The vote breaks a tradition of exclusively male bishops inherited from the first Christians almost 2,000 years ago, and means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that the vote marks the “completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests”.

In one final push for gender diversity, Marvel Comics, the US publisher of comic books, has said its superhero character Thor is set to become a woman.

Marvel said in a statement that the comic is evolving once again in one of the “most shocking and exciting changes ever to shake one of the ‘big three’ of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor”.

“No longer is the classic Thunder God able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, and a brand new female hero will emerge worthy of the name Thor,” Marvel added.

Series writer Jason Aaron emphasised that “this is not a She-Thor. This is not a Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is Thor. This is the Thor of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

Thor will be the eighth title to feature a lead female protagonist and aims to speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for super hero comic books in the US: women and girls.




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