Women missing from top jobs

Article Index
Women missing from top jobs
Exercises

Thousands women missing from boardrooms, politics and courts

Pre-reading 1

Look at the headline of the article: Six thousand women missing from boardrooms, politics and courts. What do you think it means?

  1. 6,000 women have disappeared?
  2. 6,000 women are refusing to go to work in boardrooms, politics and courts?
  3. We need 6,000 more women to equal the numbers of men in boardrooms, politics and courts? 

Pre-reading 2

Which do you think has the lowest number of women in parliament:

  1. Afghanistan,
  2. Britain,
  3. Iraq,
  4. Rwanda

The glass ceiling is still stopping women from getting any of the top 33,000 jobs in Britain. A new law to help women, the Sex Discrimination Act, came in 30 years ago, but there are still not nearly enough women in the country’s boardrooms, politics and courts.

Some successful women have a nanny to help with their children, but they still can’t go far in their careers because men control the top professions and they don’t want women to choose their working hours.

Very few women are getting top jobs, and in some areas, numbers are falling. The EOC’s last ‘Sex and Power’ survey showed more women in parliament 12 months ago. Now there are only 19.5% – lower than in Iraq, Afghanistan and Rwanda.

Although a woman is chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, and four senior judges are female, now only 10.4% of the top 100 company directors are female and only 9.8% of all judges are women.

These numbers showed just how slowly things were changing in powerful British institutions. It was time not just to find more women to fill top jobs, but to change the attitudes that stop them. Thirty years on from the Sex Discrimination Act, women rightly expect to share power. But as our survey shows, that’s not the reality.

The life was worse for everyone when Britain’s top jobs were all male. If women had an equal voice, our democracy and local communities would be stronger. And in business, we could not afford to look at only half the population to fill the best jobs.

The commission identified the 33,000 most powerful jobs in business, politics, the law and government in Britain. It said that women should fill another 6,000 to be really representative.

At the present rate of improvement, it would take women 20 years to be equal in the civil service, 40 years in the law, and 60 years in the top 100 companies. But it would take 200 years – another 40 elections – to reach an equal number of MPs in parliament. By contrast, in the Scottish assembly, nearly 40% are women and 51.7% in Wales. The EOC recommended the Welsh system, where political parties sometimes only choose from women.

But figures for non-white women are worse. There are only two black women MPs, four non-white top company directors and nine non-white top civil servants. “

More successful women find it as hard to get the jobs they want as women in lower paid work. As for age, in their 20s men earn 3.7% more, but they earn 10.7% more in their 30s – because after childbirth, women’s earning power goes down. Men’s doesn’t.

The UK pay gap is one of the biggest in Europe – 17% for full-time staff and 38% for part-time – because part-time workers are more often low paid. Then, when they have children, they lose opportunities for promotion and earn even less.

If women ask to choose their working hours, they often lose their jobs, so women with children often have to find less professional jobs to keep working. Extending the right to ask for flexible working to everyone in the workplace would change that culture and enable more women to reach the top.

© Guardian News & Media 2007First published in the Guardian, 5/1/07

 



 

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