Professor Sarah Childs

Director, CSBPPL
Professor of Politics and Gendersarah childs


Sarah Childs joined Birkbeck in September 2017 after 13 years at the University of Bristol. She has published widely on gender, political representation, party politics and Parliament. Her recent works include Deeds and Words (2015) with Rosie Campbell and Gender, Conservatism and Political Representation (2015) with Karen Celis. 

Arising from her work on representation policy, key books by Sarah include:

  • New Labour’s Women MPs (2004)
  • Women and British Party Politics (2008)
  • Sex, Gender and the Conservative Party, with Paul Webb (2012)
  •  Deeds and Words, with Rosie Campbell (2015)

Her work has also produced important empirical evidence for links made in theoretical literature on the relationship between describe and substantive representation. This is research that challenges critics who maintain that the identity of representations does not matter. Her theoretical work on the concept of critical mass, with Krook (Rutgers) is widely recognised as globally significant; much of the subsequent literature is informed by Childs’ and Krook’s concept of critical actors. Working with Celis (VUB, Belgium), theoretical reflections on conservatism and representation and the quality of substantive representation, have challenged existing conceptualisations of women’s political representation. A co-edited collection, Gender, Conservatism and Political Representation, was published in 2015.

Sarah works widely with the UK Parliament in a number of different areas. She was appointed the gender Special Adviser to the UK Parliament’s Speaker’s Conference on Parliamentary Representation (2008-10), and later she advised the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Women in Parliament (2014). Written following a secondment to the House of Commons in 2015-16, her blueprint for a diversity sensitive House of Commons, The Good Parliament Report, was published in 2016. She currently advises the new Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion, which aims to implement the Report’s recommendations.

Articles by Sarah have been published in Politics and Gender, Representation, Political Studies and Parliamentary Affairs. She has won a number of awards for teaching and research, including the 2016 Political Studies Association ‘Special Recognition Award’ for Gender and Politics Research.