Maria was born in Wolverhampton on 26 March 1964. She is married to Iain Miller and they have three children, one daughter and two sons.
Educated at Brynteg Comprehensive, Bridgend, South Wales, Maria went on to study at London School of Economics.
Maria was first elected to represent Basingstoke in the 2005 General Election.
Before entering Parliament, Maria worked for 20 years in marketing, including board level experience, and appreciates some of the pressures faced by working parents.
On becoming a Member of Parliament, Maria was appointed to the Trade and Industry Select Committee. David Cameron appointed her as Shadow Minister for Education in December 2005, then Shadow Minister for Family Welfare in the Department for Work and Pensions in November 2006. Maria moved back to the Education team as Shadow Minister for the Family in July 2007 and remained in post until the 2010 General Election.
Maria was appointed Minister for Disabled People at the Department for Work and Pensions in the Coalition Government in May 2010 and was promoted to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Minister for Women and Equalities, from September 2012 to April 2014.In June 2015 Maria was elected as Chair of the newly established Women and Equalities Select Committee. Maria was nominated for the position by MPs across the House in 2017 and was re-elected unopposed.
Maria is a Director and Trustee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, a trustee of the Belarus Free Theatre and holds offices in a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups, including Women in Parliament, Domestic Violence and Carbon Monoxide.