The Political Pioneer
Nicola Sturgeon is Scotland’s first ever female First Minister.
When I entered politics 26 years ago, it was still very male-dominated. Now, at Holyrood I stand in the chamber for First Minister’s Questions to debate with two other female leaders, in front of a female Presiding Officer! The more women we have in politics, the faster we will progress towards equality. As Scotland’s first female First Minister, I am determined to improve representation of women in senior roles. My first action as First Minister was to appoint a gender-balanced cabinet, at the time one of only three in the developed world. Gender equality is one of the greatest economic opportunities of this century. Research suggests that if rates of women-led businesses equalled those of men, the contribution to Scotland’s annual economic output would increase by £7.6 billion. Women have the right to pursue careers that they have the skills to do. It’s not right and it’s not good for society to underuse the talent of over 50 per cent of our population. However, there are still barriers in the workplace which have an effect on female participation, such as the cost of childcare.
Female employment in Scotland is higher than the UK as a whole. But it’s not just about getting women into the workplace, it’s also about the type of work women undertake. They are underrepresented in science and technologybased jobs. On the day I became First Minister, I said I wanted to send a strong message to all girls and young women in Scotland – if you work hard, the sky is the limit. Absolutely nothing should hold you back from fulfilling your potential and accomplishing your dreams. I want them to succeed, to aim high and achieve their dreams. I want young girls to grow up in a Scotland where the gender pay gap or under-representation or the barriers, like high childcare costs, are not an issue. I believe you should succeed on your abilities and how hard you work and your gender, family or race should not hold you back from that.
‘It’s not right for society to underuse the talent of over 50 per cent of our population’