A council area near Glasgow is the best place to be a woman in Great Britain, according to research conducted for BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour.
Analysis for the long-running radio programme compared a range of indicators of women’s quality of life, from income to safety and culture. They used these factors to rank the 380 local authority areas in England, Scotland and Wales from ‘best’ to ‘worst’ for women – and found that East Dunbartonshire in Scotland came out on top.
East Dunbartonshire encompasses several of Glasgow’s north-western suburbs, as well as many commuter towns and villages. It scored highly on several crucial measures, including women’s education, access to green space and overall personal wellbeing.
The borough also scored reasonably well in the ranking of income, with the median hourly wage for women equalling £15.07 per hour. However, it didn’t perform so highly in housing affordability, given that the median house price in East Dunbartonshire is 7.5 times the local median income.
Jo Swinson, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats and the MP for East Dunbartonshire, said on Twitter that she wasn’t surprised by the results of the Woman’s Hour research.
The area deemed the worst place in Britain for women was Islington in north London. The posh, leafy district is home to plentiful restaurants, pubs, theatres and shops, and more than one high-profile politician – including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
However, Islington failed to impress the Woman’s Hour analysts overall, ranking near the bottom on several factors including wellbeing, safety and housing affordability. (Not surprising, given that last year the average terraced house in Islington sold for almost £1.4million.) Women in Islington also had limited access to green space, and reported among the highest levels of anxiety.
Islington did score well on women’s access to culture, entertainment and education, and women’s full-time wages (£16.35) were the 16th highest in Great Britain. However, this edge was blunted by a large gender wage gap: men’s median income in Islington is 17% higher than women’s.
The Woman’s Hour research also investigated the best places to be a woman according to age. While East Dunbartonshire came out on top for women aged 30-65, the top-ranked local authority area for women under the age of 30 was West Oxfordshire.
This relatively small district, which includes towns such as Chipping Norton, Charlbury and Burford, has low unemployment rates and scored well on safety, culture, personal wellbeing and education. However, it scored poorly on the index for housing affordability – suggesting, in the words of the Woman’s Hour report, “that whilst quality of life may be high there might be substantial financial barriers to young women living there”.
Overall, the top 10 local authority areas to be a woman in Great Britain were as follows:
- East Dunbartonshire, Scotland
- East Renfrewshire, Scotland
- West Oxfordshire, South East
- West Berkshire, South East
- South Oxfordshire, South East
- Winchester, South East
- Mid Sussex, South East
- Wycombe, South East
- Stafford, West Midlands
- Shropshire, West Midlands
While these were the bottom 10 local authorities for woman in Great Britain:
- Islington, London
- Blackpool, North West
- Corby, East Midlands
- Boston, East Midlands
- Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire and The Humber
- Burnley, North West
- City of London, London
- Westminster, London
- Wolverhampton, West Midlands
- Camden, London
BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour will feature ‘Best Place to be a Woman’ from 11-13 September and over the coming weeks.
Images: Joseph Pearson / iStock / Rex Features