Women still missing out on top jobs

Women are still under-represented in senior jobs and parliament, thirty years after the landmark Sex Discrimination Act was passed, a new report has revealed.

The new report from the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) shows women make up only ten per cent of FTSE 100 company directors and rank lower than Rwanda and Iraq in the gender balance of parliament.

The report, Sex and Power: Who Runs Britain?, calls on political parties to take “positive action” to ensure the number of women elected to parliament increases.

The report was welcomed by the Liberal Democrats and equalities spokeswoman Lorely Burt said the party was “committed to putting our own house in order by giving strong practical and financial support to talented women and ethnic minority candidates”.

Central government is the worst performer with only 19.5 per cent of MPs being women but 51.7 per cent of assembly members in Wales are female.

The Scottish parliament also out-performs Westminster and 38.8 per cent of MSPs are women.

The EOC said the small number of women MPs was bad for politics. “Our democracy and local communities will be stronger if women from different backgrounds are able to enjoy an equal voice,” said Jenny Watson, chairwoman of the EOC.

The Conservatives also welcomed the report and said the findings were “not at all surprising”.

Eleanor Laing, shadow women and equalities minister, said: “There is too much complacency in the private and public sector. There are at least as many women as men graduating from university.”

However, the CBI pointed to increasing numbers of young women rising to senior roles in business with 28 per cent of directors aged 18-29 being female.

Susan Anderson, CBI’s director of human resources policy, said: “Women are still under-represented in senior positions and more progress must be made, but it is encouraging that an increasing number of women are becoming directors, particularly from the younger age groups.”

However, Ms Laing said flexible working was key to helping these young women to continue to succeed.

She said: “Women, to a far greater extent than men, have to balance family responsibilities with work place duties. Until society recognises this, high achieving women aged 20-30 will fall behind their male counterparts by the time they are 40.”