Research interest in gender and politics has been increasing in the UK and intemationally. Much of this research has focussed on the issues surrounding women's underrepresentation to national elected office. However, a vital part of the picture has been largely ignored - women's under-representation in local govemment. This is surprising given that so many MPs still cite experience of serving on local councils before embarking on a career in national politics. This thesis aims to fill some important gaps In our knowledge of the situation affecting the under-representation of women in local govemment In England. It is known that women are under-represented across the whole of local govemment. This research presents evidence from local council elections to show the differences that exist between and among different types of local authority. New information about the type of people who stand for local election is provided from the Local Election Candidate Survey. This is the first time that candidates and councillors have featured simultaneously in a national survey. Their motivations for standing, opinions about the selection process and campaign experience are examined in detail. Semi-structured interviews with some of these candidates provide more in-depth detail about the individual experience of standing for election and being a councillor. The research findings are of interest to local authorities and political parties as they attempt to respond to policies designed to encourage the recruitment of a wider cross-section of society to local councils. The findings should assist national government initiatives by examining the extent to which the level and success of women's' recruitment is a function of endogenous and/or exogenous factors. This research will be relevant to the broader investigation of recruitment to political office, the majority of which is restricted to national elections and thereby fails to take account of the importance of local factors as impediments or catalysts for political careers.

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