Gendering Parliamentary Questions Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This article explores MPs' use of parliamentary questions to address gender-related concerns. The discussion is based upon a sample of oral and written questions asked during the 1997/1998 parliamentary session. All questions including the terms ‘women’, ‘men’ and/or ‘gender’ were selected. Using quantitative analysis, the first part of the article examines which MPs asked these questions. The second part uses qualitative approaches to explore the content of such oral parliamentary questions. The article finds that women MPs were more likely than their male colleagues to refer to ‘women’ and ‘gender’ in both written and oral questions. Male members were more inclined to refer to ‘men’ than their female colleagues. Whilst the questions address a wide range of concerns, MPs shared a common understanding of which issues should be linked to ‘women’. Representations of wo/manhood, however, upheld conservative gender roles and risked essentialising sexual categories. The discussion has relevance for questions of women's political representation that have become increasingly topical and significant since the increase of female MPs in 1997.

publication date

  • August 2005