Almost 100 years since women got the right to vote…but are we using it?

Polling station, Goodman Park, Slough, 6th May 2010 Slough constituency
Polling station, Goodman Park, Slough, 6th May 2010
Slough constituency

By Joanna Welham, Secretary to the Vote 100 project board

2018 will mark a centenary since women got the vote, and here in Parliament, we will be marking the occasion with the Vote 100 project – a four year programme of activities starting in 2015 and culminating with a major public exhibition in 2018 in Westminster Hall.

With the centenary fast approaching, we thought it would be interesting to look at what proportion of women are choosing to exercise their right to vote. The issue of women voters was discussed in the press in the run-up to last month’s election, with Harriet Harman being quoted as saying that 9.1 million women didn’t vote in the 2010 election.

Ipsos Mori estimates that at the May General Election, the turnout for female voters was 66% (compared to 67% for men). This shows an increase in the percentage of women voting compared to 2010, where 64% of women voted, compared to 66% of men. The gap between levels of participation in the 2015 General Election between men and women was much smaller than the gap between other groups, such as young adults and those over 65 (43% of people aged 18-24 voted, compared to 78% of people aged 65 and over).

Comparing participation between men and women in the same age group is interesting too. In 2010, 39% of women aged 18-24 voted, compared to 50% of men. There was a shift in May 2015; 44% of women in this age group voted, compared to 42% of men. Although there was a clear increase in the proportion of women in this age group voting, still more than half of women aged 18-24 did not have their say on 7 May.

Picture credit: Polling Station, Goodman Park, Slough, 6 May 2010, by Simon Roberts, Artist in Residence to the 2010 election ©Palace of Westminster For further information