January 28, 2016 6:19 pm
Updated: January 28, 2016 7:32 pm

By the numbers: Women in Parliament

Canada's first (and only so far) female prime minister, Kim Campbell, pictured in January 2015.

Lars Hagberg / The Canadian Press Images
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It’s been a century since Manitoba women became the first females in Canada to cast ballots.

Three years later, in 1919, all Canadian women were allowed to vote in federal elections. And as they voted, they also started seeking federal office themselves.

Here’s a look back at women in Parliament, what’s changed – and what hasn’t.

More women run for office


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Only four women ran when Agnes MacPhail became Canada’s first woman Member of Parliament, in 1921. 533 women ran this past election, making up 30 per cent of candidates.

It’s harder to convince women to run for office, political leaders like Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May have said. One reason given is Parliament’s adversarial atmosphere. Another, said May, is that women will sometimes say that a party could find someone better.

The number of women running varies quite a bit by party as well.

READ MORE: More women are running in this election than ever

Click here to view data »


Source: Library of Parliament

More women get elected

Agnes MacPhail remained the only woman in the House of Commons until Martha Louise Black was elected in 1935 – 14 years after MacPhail’s victory.

Since then, the number of women elected to Parliament grew slowly, really taking off in the 1980s. A record number of women – 88 – were elected in 2015.

But even though seats were added over the years, women still only make up 26 per cent of the House of Commons.

Click here to view data »


Source: Library of Parliament

Men still have better chances

In Canada’s most recent elections, men have been about three per cent more likely to be elected than women.

But Canadian voters are increasingly likely to vote for women, judging by the overall success rate of candidates.

Some academic research has shown that women don’t tend to be nominated in close races – perhaps they should be, as they still manage to win 16.5 per cent of the time, compared to 19.9 per cent for men.

Women’s success rate was higher than men’s in only one election – 1926, when only two women ran, and one got elected.

More recently, the success rate for both men and women was nearly equal in 2000, when Jean Chretien’s Liberals were re-elected.

In general, a candidate’s chance of success has decreased over time, likely because more people are running.

Click here to view data »


Source: Library of Parliament

Women speak more than men, on average

Once they’re in the House, women aren’t sitting quietly.

A study by the research and advocacy group Samara found that over 54 days in 2012, women punched above their weight, at least when it comes to the number of words spoken in the House.

Women accounted for 31 per cent of the words spoken, though they only represented 25 per cent of the House.

Click here to view data »


Source: Samara, “House of Words” infographic

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