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I sorted the UK’s statues by gender – a mere 2.7 per cent are of historical, non-royal women

If you’re a woman, your best chance at becoming a statue is to be a mythical or allegorical figure, a famous virgin, royal or nude.

The first thing I learned is that sorting all the statues in the UK national database of the Public Monuments & Sculpture Association by gender is not a fun way to spent your weekend. You will start dreaming in statues. Behind every corner you will see a statue. You will accost strangers and start manically regaling them with statue facts – did you know that of all the statues of fictional characters, only one is from a work by a woman?

The second thing I learned is that there are a lot of statues of men. I sorted through 826 entries filed under “statue”, which includes a total of 925 statues. Only 158 of those were of women who merit a statue that stands on its own.

If you include the women who make it into the group shots, that figure rises to 253. But that still leaves 632 statues of men (508 of whom merit a solitary placement), with the remaining 40 being either of animals, or of ambiguous gender.

And OK, so that’s not great, but really, two and half statues of men for every statue of a woman isn’t that bad when you consider women make up less than 30 per cent of speaking roles in Hollywood films and only 24 per cent of subjects of global news stories. Women also make up a higher proportion of statues in the UK than they do MPs in Parliament. Go statues.

But who are these women? How do you go about getting a statue erected of you as a woman?

Your best bet is to be an allegorical or mythical figure. Almost half (110) of the female statues listed in the database are of allegorical figures like Justice (12), or Art (nine). Meanwhile, there are only 45 statues of male allegorical figures.

Incidentally, it’s interesting to look at the gender breakdown of the allegories themselves: in the statues I counted, women tend to dominate in the arts, while science and commerce are universally male.

If you’re not an allegory, you could do worse than to give birth to the son of God (there are 14 statues of the Virgin Mary), but of course that requires an immaculate conception. Rather a tall order for most of us.

So failing that, there is the ever popular figurative female: that is, an unnamed woman who is there simply for the sake of possessing a female body. Often nude, statues of figurative women number 83, including a rather fetching one erected at Birmingham University – which has a facade displaying nine historical men – of a coquettishly posing woman, naked except for a hat.

By far the least likely route to having a statue erected of you, however, is to have been a woman who actually existed and achieved something in the past. Only 71 statues (that’s 28 per cent of the total female figure) of historical women are listed in the database. Forty-six of those are of royalty – over 50 per cent. Twenty-nine alone are of Queen Victoria.

That leaves us with 25 statues of historical, non-royal women (one of whom is a ghost and only there because she’s looking for the spirit of her murdered husband). Meanwhile, there are 43 statues of men called John.

In fact, historical men do really rather well out of statues: 517 of the 925 statues I counted are of historical men. Only 19 of these are of royalty, leaving us with 498 statues of historical, non-royal men, which represents 82 per cent of the total male figure, and 54 per cent of UK statues overall.

So it turns out that the statue world rather accurately reflects the rest of the world: women can be there to look pretty, or to inspire Great Men (there is quite a vogue for grouping famous historical men together with allegorical females like “Peace” and muses like Euterpe and Melpomene), or to be virginal. But that’s about it.

If an allegorical female is erected, but turns out to have been a dreadful real-life woman, she is swiftly removed, as happened to the statue of “History”, who was revealed to have been modelled on a bluestocking – the horror!

Women are barely doing better than statues of animals, which number 18 (more if you count all the ones alongside humans, but I leave that task for a sturdier heart than mine).

Still, you might ask. Why the obsession with statues?

Well, it all started on International Women’s Day, when I was running through Parliament Square. For the first time, I noticed that of the 11 statues in this historically significant location, not a single one was of a woman.

If we lived in a fair world, historical, non-royal women would not make up a paltry 2.7 per cent of all the statues in the UK. But we do not live in a fair world. And I’m realistic about the pace of change.

So I’m not asking for a mass female statue-building project. But in 2018, it will have been 100 years since women finally won the argument that there is nothing peculiar about the female body that renders us incapable of voting.

I think it’s time we got a statue of a suffragette in Parliament Square to commemorate that fact. I hope you’ll sign my petition asking the Mayor of London to put one up.

Caroline Criado-Perez is a freelance journalist and feminist campaigner. She is also the co-founder of The Women's Room and tweets as @CCriadoPerez.

Photo: Getty
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Will Brexit be a success? Not if Football Manager is any guide

I played both the 2017 and 2018 versions of the game for thirty years after Brexit. The result was a grim future.

If England wins the World Cup, but the Premier League loses one of its Champions League places, has Brexit succeeded or failed? That’s the question that could define whether Brexit endures or is merely a one decade proposition, at least if Football Manager is any guide.

Two years ago, the popular football simulation made headlines after announcing they would incorporate a range of possible Brexit scenarios into their game. On 29 March 2019, players would be told what the outcome of the Brexit talks were, with major implications for how British football clubs conducted their transfer dealings. The options: an EEA-style Brexit, in which the United Kingdom maintained its membership of the single market and with it the free movement of people and the current frictionless trade with the continent, a Canada-style Brexit in which the United Kingdom leaves the single market with the concomitant repercussions for trade with the continent, and a no-deal scenario.

I have now played both the 2017 and 2018 versions of the game for a good thirty or so years after Brexit. In both cases, I experienced what is still far and away the most likely flavour of Brexit – a Canada-style arrangement with a reduced level of market access. (The one disappointingly unrealistic note is that this all takes place with no transition in March 2019.) And in both cases, I was still at the start of my managerial career, carving out a name for myself in the lower tiers of English football, with Oxford City and FC United of Manchester respectively. (I begin my games of Football Manager unemployed and take whatever job I can get.)

What both saves have immediately in common is that for the great mass of football clubs, there appears to be no real difference between life the day before, or after, Brexit. 

Oxford City mark the first full season after Brexit by achieving almost perfect equilibrium in League One – 15 victories, 16 draws and 15 losses –  while FC United are promoted from League Two at the first sign of asking. It doesn’t appear as if British football is going to be all that different outside of the EU.
But the summer proves otherwise. Signing players, already nightmarishly hard at Oxford City – my wage budget is punishingly low -  becomes more difficult, as I no longer have immediate and foolproof access to the European market.  My usual approach in the lower leagues is to buy young technically adept players from Scotland, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Ireland, and finance that by selling a player every summer.  Although FC United have a more competitive salary structure, they too struggle.

But as a net exporter of players, that’s all to the good. Other, bigger clubs respond to the unreliability of the European market by being more competitive for my players, and I successfully reinvest the proceeds, winning promotion to the Championship with both clubs in 2020-21

There, again, I find the football landscape much as I’d expect it: a series of financially over-extended clubs, all a bad run away from crisis, who are desperate for players with visas. This is double-edged: Oxford City are still a selling club, so the increasing cost of players is good for me. But unfortunately, not every one of my starlets can get the big move they want. On the eve of my third season in the Premier League – 2024-25 – a £97m deal for Ollie List, a buccaneering fullback I plucked from Fulham’s academy, falls through at the last minute, leaving me unable to buy several key targets and List thoroughly disgruntled.

The only way I stop List’s bad attitude bringing down the rest of my players is to bust open my wage structure to give him an eyewatering salary increase. He repays me by being the lynchpin of a defence that wins nine titles over the next decade, but he is symptomatic of a wider problem: I can’t sell on my players and I can’t easily buy replacements, so the only way to keep the show on the road is to pay higher salaries.

That dynamic seems to be playing itself out at other clubs up and down English football. My noisy neighbours, Oxford United, declare bankruptcy and are relegated three years in succession. As I celebrate Oxford City’s Premier League win in 2025-6, Derby County, Crystal Palace, Liverpool FC and Leeds United all find themselves in some kind of financial jeopardy, which is a good opportunity for me to buy some good players at a knockdown price, but again, on eyewatering wages. FC United’s first league title in 2024-5 similarly comes against a backdrop of clubs declaring bankruptcy.

To compensate for the lack of access to the European market, I turn my eyes further afield, signing players from Latin America, Africa and southeast Asia. I still face heavy visa restrictions, of course, and my Premier League rivals are in the same game. Ultimately, Brexit is good for increasing trade outside of Europe – but the increase in trade is not large enough to compensate for the loss of easy access to the European market.

While I am doing well myself in European competition, most English clubs are not. In a moment that triggers national soul-searching, the damage to our UEFA coefficient means that the Premier League loses one of its four Champions League places in 2032-33 in both saves with France the beneficiary in Football Manager 2017 and Italy the benefactors in Football Manager 2018. But in both cases, the English football team enjoys major success at the following international tournament (not, I should make clear, as a result of my involvement: I consider international football to be beneath me).

In both cases, the post-Brexit future is roughly in line with the bulk of economic forecasts: wages up, but prices up too. Trade with the world outside the EU up, but not by enough to compensate for the loss of trade with the continent. And crucially, underperformance relative to the rest of Europe.

So if Football Manager is any guide, expect Brexit to be a modest failure: and Axel Tuanzebe, the Manchester United centreback, to be a storming success.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.