- Job: Member of the Legislative Council
- Organisation: Tynwald, Isle of Man
- Years in public service: 4 months
My grandmother/mother was a…
My grandmother ran hotels in the days of the booming Manx tourist industry and my mother is a secretary.
The Isle of Man was the first country in the world to give the vote to women in national elections, 37 years before women in the UK had the opportunity, but my grandmother may still have been surprised at the number of women in our Legislative Council today. 5 of our 8 elected members are female.
In her time, members would have come from judicial and religious appointments and of course, were men. Our parliament, Tynwald, is now more diverse, with more women in parliament than ever before.
Like many other people, my mother thinks it’s important to have people from different backgrounds to have a voice in parliament and bring a different dimension in legislation, policy and scrutiny.
Me in a paragraph
I am a questioner. My best friend reminded me recently that I questioned school policies when I was 8 and got into trouble!
I will naturally query why something is done a particular way or why I should do something at all. I haven’t always gone the conventional path. I left home at 15 because of various family difficulties and I wanted to focus on school and A levels. I always saw education as the “ticket out” and guiding light.
I worked to support myself throughout that time, finding jobs that would fit round school and university. I managed to get the grades to go to the University of Leeds, my chosen degree being EU Studies with Law.
After Uni, I worked in financial services. I recall looking around the office and noticing that all the managers were men, yet they seemed to do the least work. Presenteeism was a huge part, there were capable, more effective women but they would be dashing in and out of the office, juggling family commitments. In that moment, I decided to go into business for myself and it was incredibly fun to plan that secretly and have my resignation letter in my desk drawer ready to go.
Being my own boss opened up so many different opportunities and experiences for me. Being a parliamentarian came later, after a period of being at home as a stay at home mum. When it was first suggested that I stand in the Legislative Council Elections my first thought was that I wouldn’t fit. Turn out, times have changed and I do.
I am a member of the Legislative Council, the upper chamber of the Manx Parliament, Tynwald. It is a revisory chamber, so our role is that of scrutinising and improving legislation. In Tynwald, we sit together with the directly elected House of Keys and have a role in secondary legislation, tracking executive authority through parliamentary accountability and in debating and voting on policy.
When we were first sworn in, the President of Tynwald reminded us new members that we have a voice to represent groups who do not have a voice in Tynwald and that struck a chord with me. There are lots of chances to make a difference, especially if you have in mind how legislation and policies impact people.
My job is to read, listen, challenge, question, consider views of different groups and think through how legislation and policy will work in practice and how it can be improved.
If I had a magic wand, what would I do to accelerate gender equality?
Aside from legislative and policy matters, I think sorting out the pathways to various roles, through encouragement and mentorship is important. Those in power in business or in politics can influence and inspire here. On a more practical level, having more help and equality in domestic matters and access to childcare is important.
Anything else you’d like to say
Ignore people who try to put you off pursuing something – they are probably doing it for the wrong reasons. Carve your own path, it may be more difficult, but it will be your own way and who knows what it will bring.