Scotland’s political parties are failing to tackle sexism in their candidate selection process, the co-founder of Women 50:50 has warned.

Herald on Sunday research shows that despite promises to act from most parties, just a third of all the candidates selected to fight the next general election are women.

The SNP has selected substantially more candidates than any other party, with 53 of the 57 they will need for the vote in place. Of those 35 are men, around 66%.

Meanwhile, 15 of the 26 candidates selected by Labour are men, 58%, while just four of the 17 Tories are women, 24%.

Of the seven candidates selected by the Lib Dems, four are men.

That means of the 103 candidates selected, 67 are men and 36, roughly 35%, are women. 

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Talat Yaqoob, from Women 50:50, said: “It is not enough for any party to simply sign up to support women’s equal representation, they must commit to taking action and delivering it.

“That means taking seriously the reality of sexism and inequality within politics and improving candidate recruitment processes.

“We want to see more women in politics, especially those who remain grossly underrepresented: women of colour, disabled women and working-class women, but that won’t happen until parties transform their cultures and make it a priority.”

At the 2019 general election, out of the 650 MPs elected, 220 were women, the highest-ever proportion of female parliamentarians in the Commons. 

During the 2021 devolved elections, the Scottish parliament gained its highest-ever proportion of women MSPs, with 45%.

An SNP spokesperson said: "The SNP is determined to improve the representation of women across Scottish politics - we are proud to be taking actions to help see this achieved and leading by example with a government that is one of only a handful in the world whose cabinet is gender balanced. 

“Although when entering selection contests, female nominees had a 44% success rate, there is clearly more to be done to support our female members and increase representation to tackle toxic and misogynistic culture at Westminster.

“Until we see these numbers balanced, every political party has a duty to step up to ensure that our political landscape is fair, diverse and representative of our society – but it's clear that some have got more to do than others."

Asked what they were doing to get more women elected, Lib Dem Christine Jardine said: “Every time I go out and speak to women I encourage them to think about politics and that's what we all have to do.

“That’s why I am particularly proud that the Liberal Democrats are the only major party at Westminster with more than 50% women.

"Likewise our Scottish spokesperson team of parliamentarians, councillors and candidates is also gender balanced.

“Over recent election cycles we have consistently pushed forward with selecting women in winnable seats, using our Diversity Campaign Fund to support candidates from underrepresented groups for personal or campaign expenses and the leader regularly reports to Conference on the progress made.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see more women and others from underrepresented groups getting involved at all levels of politics.”

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A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “Every party has a responsibility to deliver gender equality and support women in politics.

“Scottish Labour is committed to fighting for greater equality and diversity at every level of government, and we are working to not only select female candidates but elect female MPs.

“We will continue to take steps to boost the number of women standing and elected, both during the selection process and through longer-term work to remove the barriers that prevent women from standing.”

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “The majority of our candidates have not yet been selected at this stage, but I’m delighted that we have three new female candidates in key seats.

“It is very important to promote equal representation – 45% of our new MSP intake elected at the last Holyrood election were women, and we are committed to increasing the number of women candidates elected at all levels.”

A recent report by the Fawcett Society warned that without urgent action, the under-representation of women in politics could be exacerbated.