After a detailed analysis of dialogue from the Walloon Parliament in 2020, it has been found that a staggering 82.4% of speech comes from male speakers, according to a study carried out by dada analyst Robin Devooght of the Roi Baudouin Foundation.
This is largely explained by the fact that the most strategic positions in the parliament are occupied almost exclusively by men. However, the monopoly that male orators have compared to female colleagues is disproportionate to their majority in parliament, which is about 63% men, Le Soir reported.
When ranked in descending order, the ten members of the Walloon Parliament that spoke most were: Jean-Claude Marcourt (PS), François Desquesnes (CDH), Germain Mugemangango (PTB), Willy Borsus (MR), Christie Morreale (PS), Jean-Luc Crucke (MR), Stéphane Hazée (Ecolo), Jean-Paul Wahl (MR), Philippe Henry (Ecolo), and Elio Di Rupo (PS). The only female in this list is Christie Morreale, who, in her function as Minister for Employment and Health, has played a pivotal role in setting policy during the pandemic.
Speaking time depends on parliamentary role
Commenting on his research, Devooght was emphatic that the results do not show that male parliamentarians are more verbose but rather, that the amount of time spent speaking depends on the function of the speaker. Devooght stressed that to feature in the top ten list, “you must occupy an important role.” He concluded that this is precisely the problem: “Female members of parliament are losers when it comes to the distribution of important roles.”
The study is an undeniable indicator of an unequal share of parliamentary functions between men and women. Yet Devooght does mark an improvement in the balance of time spoken by men and that spoken by women: in seven years the female share has doubled. However, the researcher qualified this observation with the caveat that, “at the current rate, it would take another 25 years to reach male/female parity.”