Minority women face job 'chasm'

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The Independent Online

The move followed new research showing a "gaping chasm" between young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black-Caribbean women's ambitions and the reality they faced in the workplace.

The groups of women studied were just as ambitious as white women, and often more skilled, but they found it disproportionately difficult to get a job they wanted.

According to the study of 800 women, young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black-Caribbean women were three to four times more likely than white women to take a job at a lower level than they were qualified for. The figures were worse for graduates.

The EOC said its findings suggested that higher rates of sex discrimination and attitudes towards religious dress were partly to blame.

The ethnic minority women surveyed were three times more likely than white women to be asked at a job interview about marriage plans and many experienced negative attitudes towards religious dress at work.

Jenny Watson, acting chairwoman of the EOC, said: "No one's ambitions should be dashed in this way and Britain's businesses are missing out on a pool of talent that could help them stay competitive."

Trevor Philips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said: "We need to ensure that women from ethnic minority backgrounds are not held back from reaching their full potential. We welcome this investigation which should help uncover some of the barriers."