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Positive Discrimination for Women

 
 
On 18 Jul 2012 at 8:52pm Angry wrote:
Should there be positive discrimination for women in the workplace? Discuss.
 
 
On 18 Jul 2012 at 10:24pm Mme B wrote:
I am inclined to think that employment and promotion should be based on ability, irrespective of gender, but on the other hand it is not so very long ago that perfectly suitable women would be turned down for employment on the grounds that they were under 35 and "might start a family". Have we made any progress since those days? The glass ceiling seems still to be very much in place in some areas.
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On 18 Jul 2012 at 10:24pm Awesome Wells wrote:
Absolutely not!
They wanted equality, got it, and yet still demand preferential treatment.
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On 18 Jul 2012 at 10:38pm Earl of Lewes wrote:
There should be equality in the workplace, then you won't need positive discrimination.
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 10:32am Its Not Rocket Science wrote:
Surely positive discrimination for women equals negative discrimination for men equals sexism. I thought women had been fighting to get rid of that?
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 11:13am Pete wrote:
You know ladies like it both ways.
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 11:14am Southover Queen wrote:
I can't imagine any able woman wanting to succeed purely because of her sex. It's crude and could be very damaging. However there are an awful lot of workplaces which do effectively discriminate against women simply because they're not prepared to allow people to work flexibly (for instance). Most primary carers are still women, whether that's looking after a young family or an elderly relative, and many women will give up or limit their own careers in order to meet their other obligations.

Attempts to make workplaces more equal and flexible are often targeted by the press obliquely ("red tape" "political correctness gone mad") but does anyone doubt that a job should go to the person best qualified for it? Suppose she is excluded because she needs to get away by 6pm - what are we missing? So no discrimination thanks: just equal opportunities.
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 11:15am kettle wrote:
Given that girls perform better in schools but still earn less than men when they start work and are under represented in virtually every industry at senior level, I'd say that positive discrimination for men is alive and well.
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 11:28am kettle wrote:
Yes, SQ - but that won't happen because there still seems to be the belief that women who have children and want to work are selfishly trying to 'have it all'. What will it take for men to realise that having and looking after children is something that is actually essential for all of us.
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 1:53pm Ed Can Do wrote:
The glass ceiling will exists as long as paternity pay is for a shorter period than maternity pay. If you were an employer and were faced with two candidates, identical in every way except that if one became a parent they will be entitled to 9 months off work whereas the other only a couple of months, logic would suggest you'll always pick the the latter. The government is taking some steps towards stopping this by allowing couples to share the maternity leave between mother and father but sadly, tradition dictates that a woman will take more time off after having a kid than a bloke will meaning a lot of employers would rather have men working for them, especially in important posts.
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 2:30pm Redundant Rose wrote:
How ironic...Here I am reading a thread about women and discrimination and at the side of the thread is an ad for Kisses of Africa. Presumably poor African ladies after a better life..
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 2:37pm Southover Queen wrote:
I agree, Ed Can Do. I think the fact that much of the expense required to support parents in the workplace falls upon the employer is onerous. I think that it would be far far better to find a way of making maternity/paternity pay statutory (ie not the responsibility of the employer alone) as they do in Scandinavian countries. It would mean everyone paying higher taxes but it would lift that burden considerably.

The truth is that the mean age where women become mothers is climbing every year, and that is particularly notable in those in high achieving careers with expensive education behind them. One of the effects of the current system is that many of our most intelligent women decide not to have children at all, or to try so late that it's no longer possible, and that really can't be good for society as a whole.
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 5:01pm brixtonbelle wrote:
Erm, I think maternity pay is statutory and there is a minimum (which is pretty much the same as the dole). When I took maternity leave many years ago, I was told by my HR dept that they were refunded 90 pc of my paid leave by the government so it didn't really affect them financially. I'm not sure if that's true but can't think why the company would lie about it !
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On 19 Jul 2012 at 5:32pm Southover Queen wrote:
You're right, BB - I just looked it up!

So is the employer's concern just that they'll have to cover the job for the period the mother is off?

Of course only employees get it, so you're stuffed if you're a freelancer, a contractor or a casual worker, and that is a significant proportion of the working population.
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On 20 Jul 2012 at 2:05pm not from around here wrote:
The maternity pay is the least of the problems for an employer. Missing vital member of staff is not 'just' having to cover for somebody - it can have a major effect on an organisation. I have an friend who is a headteacher at a large middle school and teachers becoming pregnant is a constant problem for him as he has to keep their post open while at the same time employing covering staff. Ironically the ones who are most inconvenienced are the children in the school who lose their regular teacher for a year. It' not an ideal situation but I'm not sure what the solution is.
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On 20 Jul 2012 at 3:36pm Kettle wrote:
Perhaps women should stop having children until a fairer system is sorted out.
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On 20 Jul 2012 at 4:19pm Southover Queen wrote:
They have, at least they have in "educated" or "professional" circles. It's bizarre: the only women who can afford to have kids are those who aren't working in the first place. The rest are scrambling up the career ladder and paying off their vast loans. It's a funny way of running a society, where only the unsuccessful breed.
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On 20 Jul 2012 at 4:33pm Sussex Jim wrote:
If you are pregnant or have a long-term medical condition like breaking a leg, you should accept that your employer needs to replace you. If you are good at your job, then re-apply later. We have this farce in Lewes at the moment that two doctors have taken a "sabbatical". Other doctors should be taken on; and the originals invited to apply for new posts later.
We certainly do not want to get to the situation like in Scandinavian countries, where fathers get 9 months "paternity leave".
( what sort of real man wants to spend 9 months changing nappies anyway?)
 
 
On 20 Jul 2012 at 5:16pm Kettle wrote:
SJ - Why should women be the only ones who are disadvantaged?
SQ - exactly - I've always thought it interesting that following Darwinism, the educated are the least likely to breed - so the 'fittest' must be the people who are unsuccessful elsewhere. What does that mean for the human race?
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On 20 Jul 2012 at 5:29pm Southover Queen wrote:
Sussex Jim probably thinks the suffragettes are a bunch of extreme radical feminists. Luckily they won't get anywhere, poor dears. Ridiculous and very unladylike.
 
 
On 21 Jul 2012 at 3:31pm Ed Can Do wrote:
Although maternity leave is a statutory right, you don't get very much as a basic and rate and your employer can only claim back 90% of the cost. Also they only have to pay you your full wage (An average of what you wearned for the 8 weeks before a month before your due date or something like that) for six months, after which you just get basic maternity pay which is unlivable if you usually earn a bit more than that and are living to those means.

The problem for employers as has already been mentioned is not the cost of the 10% contribution but the cost of covering the person on leave. If it's a particularly skilled role, getting temporary cover can be very expensive, plus you have training costs in most roles. In some industries (like catering for example) a new mother or father with a young baby suddenly becomes a lot less flexible in the hours they can work too meaning that even when your employee comes back, they may well not be able to do the same job they were doing before.

I'd agree with SQ that a higher level of statutory pay combined with support for employers of new parents would be a much better use of public money than the endless gravy-train of people with no jobs at all having babies either because of poor education about family planning or intentionally to get a bigger council house.
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On 21 Jul 2012 at 4:40pm Southover Queen wrote:
Thanks Ed; that's helpful.
The number of people who are self-employed for tax purposes has grown considerably in the UK - they now seem to amount to something like 15% of the working population. In addition to them will be a whole army of people who are on short term contracts or working casually who are not self-employed but are not employed for long enough to qualify for enhanced benefits such as maternity pay. What that is actually means is that a large number of younger women will be completely unable to contemplate having children because they simply can't afford it. In spite of what the likes of Sussex Jim might think, that represents a very important sector of society who will either put off parenthood or decide against it entirely, and that's a desperate pity.

An enlightened society would think that supporting educated and motivated parents through the early years would be good for all of us. I don't think it's about having draconian laws forbidding this or that, but rather making the system more sympathetic. We need young people who are skilled and well educated and able to contribute, and they're likely to come from families where those values are important and passed on. That would cost society something, but nothing like as much as effectively preventing the brightest young people from even contemplating parenthood.
 
 
On 23 Jul 2012 at 12:19pm brixtonbelle wrote:
SQ - Can you give a definition of unsuccesful ? Vis your statement "It's a funny way of running a society, where only the unsuccessful breed."

And also back up your statement "preventing the brightest young people from even contemplating parenthood." ???

What's the source/ facts behind these statements ? They sound suspiciously Daily Mail and unthought out to me - not like you at all SQ.
 
 
On 23 Jul 2012 at 12:52pm Clifford wrote:
So, to sum up: only women should look after children and it has very little to do with men; the most important thing to take into consideration is the interests of the employer; the growth of short-term contracts and insecurity is something we should just accept as a natural thing; discriminating against women is wrong but attempting to redress the balance means discriminating against men.
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On 23 Jul 2012 at 2:04pm Southover Queen wrote:
Slightly flippant perhaps, BB, but founded in fact. Women who opt for career paths which require tertiary education and long hours are more and more either putting off childbearing or deciding against it entirely.

My background is in what you might loosely call the media. In film and television, women outnumber men until they get to their mid-thirties. Then they disappear, and those who stay typically do not have children. The figures are that between 2006 and 2009 700 men left the industry while in the same period 5000 women did the same. The vast majority of these people are freelancers - they have virtually no employment rights and no access to paid maternity leave etc. Many of my friends have had to make a stark decision: to have children they'd have to seek different employment or at the very least have a partner who doesn't work as a film or tv freelancer. There are several reasons for this: chaotic and unpredictable working patterns including periods of unemployment, comparatively poor pay, no access to employment rights (because they're now predominantly freelance) and extremely long hours. Most women over the age of 40 in television do not have children (and if they do they're likely to be permanently employed).

I don't have figures for other specific groups in similar sectors, but I'm willing to bet that you'd see similar patterns among other creative workers. I'm fairly certain you'd find that most female surgeons don't have kids while many female GPs do, and solicitors in city firms don't have kids while many in high street law practices do.

The are quite a few surveys and studies which show the same thing - I've linked to a Harvard study which I think does concentrate on the US, but I'd be amazed if you couldn't show very much the same thing here. Educated women in demanding jobs postpone or never embark on childbearing, while women who leave school early with fewer qualifications and less highly skilled work have more kids sooner.

The expectation is still very much that women will do the caring, whatever their menfolk say! Sussex Jim is probably speaking for a lot of men when he says that we don't want a Scandinavian model here. Well he might not, but I dare say that many women would be thrilled if the playing field were a little more level. As more and more of the UK workforce finds its employment casualised the problem is likely to become every more acute.

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