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Legislation, not discrimination, to blame for gender imbalance in the workplace

In response to the hysteria being aired about Nigel’s remarks in the City this morning, let me clarify what women want, where women are in the workplace, and perhaps why there are so few women at the top of the City workplace or in most board positions come to that.

A top UK bank recently asked its management why they thought there were so few women in senior positions? There were people who had recently joined from US banks who commented that they had far more women in executive positions but fewer black and minority ethnic people and that Britain was much better at diversity than the US; but they couldn’t understand why in the UK so few women were applying for jobs.

One reason is our education system.  Astonishingly, when that bank advertises its graduate recruitment programme, over 80% of the applicants are male.

I recently took part in a discussion panel on enforced gender quotas, something that the EU in its wisdom thinks UK companies should adopt.  The other panellists and I (mostly women in business), were in agreement that the fault lies with girls’ education.  Girls are still being pushed down traditional stereotypical gender roles. Until that changes, no positive discrimination will work because those women will be seen as tokens, and none of us wish that.

We must start to educate girls on a seriously equal basis. Take a look at the statistics on A level results and compare the numbers of those girls taking physics and maths compared to boys, and then look deeper into the private versus the state school system. You’ll see that girls are tragically being left behind, both in career advancement, earnings capacity and choice.

Another reason why women are not reaching the top is because we have to fix the pipeline of women coming through the ranks, tape up the leaky pipeline once they’re there, give them increased mentoring, put them in charge of profit and loss accounts, managing people but with support and encouragement along the way. 

Women of child-bearing age are also finding it difficult to find employment. I am told by countless small businesses — and it is SMEs that this legislation affects, not large corporations who can absorb the cost — that they cannot ‘risk’ employing women between the ages of 20-45 because of the EU imposed maternity rights law which allows women to take up to year off work. 

One employer told me, “A woman on maternity leave is under no obligation to tell you if or when she is returning, and that level of uncertainty can really cripple a firm. The problem is you don’t know whether to recruit a new person for the job or hold it open. I think after six months the maternity leaver should have to decide whether she wants to come back to work so the employer has the option of recruiting someone else to fill the job.”

This legislation is costing Britain’s employers £3bn.  I can think of no other piece of legislation specifically designed to discourage the employment of young women. The costs to business will simply serve as a further reason to not employ young women of child-bearing age.

Legislation such as this closes the door on opportunities for young women and consigns them to a role as second class citizens, trapped at home by the stupidity of legislators. It will single-handedly turn back the clock by forcing employers to avoid exposure to the penalties by not hiring young women at all.

Until we change our education system and reverse damaging social legislation, the same gene pool of women will swill around taking non-exec positions at £30k a time.


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About Janice Atkinson MEP (3 Articles)
Janice is one of the 24 UKIP Members of the European Parliament, representing the South East of England

6 Comments on Legislation, not discrimination, to blame for gender imbalance in the workplace

  1. The idea of equal pay backfired because even now Female dominated areas get paid less than male dominated ones, nursing has been grossly underpaid although male and female get the same amount of pay for the same levels. Nursing of course has a disproportionate number of men at the top, not because they are better or more capable but because they do not tend to take time off work having babies, or wanting part time or only day time hours to look after them. This is also the main reason for the high attrition rate of nurses, when the nurse leaves work to look after children then can not get a job back in the nhs when she wants to return later, because the hospitals always go for the cheapest option of newly qualified nurses over experienced returners. I don’t think that school children are going to alter their decisions much on which subjects to study, and will be more likely to rail against anyone trying to get them to do subjects they do not like.

  2. Ummer Farooq @faro0485 // January 21, 2014 at 1:10 am //

    I’m sure those mothers in other countries still have to work:
    All you need with that, is a suit.

  3. To understand why there is a gap between men and women’s pay and level of achievement within different industries, I recommend Walter Block’s analysis of discrimination. You can see his lectures on YouTube (search “Walter Block discrimination”). Block is a libertarian Austrian-school economist. He demonstrates how the pay gap is due to women taking time off to raise children. For “never-married” women, the pay differential with men is very small. For women who are “ever-married” (meaning married at some point) and have raised children there is a 30% difference. This demonstrates that it is marriage and child-rearing that prduces the difference, not discrimination. The productivity of women who have children is lower than that of men and also of women who do not have children. In a free market the price of labour tends towards the productivity level of the worker. Block also demonstrates using Austrian logic how discrimination is economically self-defeating and is actually eliminated by a free market.

    The Left want to blame this all on discrimination in line with their general narrative of capitalist oppression and group victimhood, to which they pose as the solution through statist regulation which interferes with economic freedom and in fact makes the matter worse – as was noted in the above article – because small businesses will be less-likely to employ a married woman of childbearing age due to the financial risk arising from the anti-discrimination legislation.

    This is not a very good summary; please do check out Walter Block’s work on this subject for yourself – he explains it far better than I can.

  4. You may want to ask Nigel to come and visit a firm that is doing quite well because of this very problem.

    “In 2002 I was faced with a dilemma, I wanted to return to work and to continue my career, something I felt I had earned during my city days, but I did not want to compromise on my responsibilities of being a Mother. I wanted it all and knew I was not alone. So we set-out to create a City based environment in Kings Hill, Kent but with the flexibility and understanding of the needs of the people we employ. It worked. Today we are providing working flexibility to our team of over 50 people in locations in Morristown -NJ, Singapore and Zurich.
    Financial Institutions, even today, are missing out on a significant, qualified resource pool. They just don’t understand or can’t accommodate the ‘working parent’ into their business or recognize people as more than ‘an employee’. Their loss is our gain.”

  5. Janice, I agree that it is exactly the legislation that allows for such generous maternity leave and pay that is causing zero hour contracts and no permanent employment. But, it isn’t just the women suffering from this stupidity. Now they have changed the rules again so if the woman chooses not to use her allowance but to go back to work then it can be transferred to her partner/husband. This means that it is now too risky to employ men up to 45 also in case they continue to follow their biological wiring and breed.
    This I expect is another deliberate ploy by the German led EU to destroy small businesses in the UK. I bet they have a let-out clause so it isn’t so harsh on their small businesses.

  6. You people are dinosaurs

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