The Impact of Gendered and Raced Select Committee Membership Patterns on Parliamentary Scrutiny

Membership of some select committees (SCs) is disproportionately male or female with some being consistently so since 1979 (Goodwin, Holden Bates & McKay 2020). This situation – and similar situations regarding other aspects of members background and characteristics – has (potential) consequences for issues concerning representation (both symbolic and substantive), access, effective scrutiny (for example, the dangers of groupthink), agenda-setting, and parliamentary career paths. 

The project will investigate the impact of gendered and raced membership patterns and attendant institutionalised practices on the work and focus of select committees. 

This research is funded by the ESRC Impact Accelerator Account and is being undertaken under the auspices of the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Academic Fellowship scheme.

The project started in September 2021 and will run until August 2022.

Aims of the research

The aims of the project are threefold and build on this earlier work regarding gendered membership patterns of select committees: 

  • to collect data on the ethnicity of select committee members;
  • to identify any institutional and broader structural factors behind these gendered and any racialised divisions of labour; and
  • to explore the impact of (long-term) membership patterns on the work, focus and conduct of SCs and their ability to undertake parliamentary scrutiny effectively. 

In meeting these aims, the project seeks to contribute to the effort to improve the effectiveness of Parliament’s scrutiny and representation functions.

Contact details

Stephen Bates (