Women in business

If you find yourself as a women having a tough time in business, you certainly won't be alone. Statistically women are still professionally disadvantaged in comparison to their male counterparts, with lower salaries and less chances of promotion. But for black and Asian women this difficulty can become a "double-whammy" according to recent findings by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

The EOC have released figures which show that despite the high ambitions of young afro-Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, these expectations are not realised in the workplace. "According to the new research, young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black-Caribbean women are almost three to four times more likely than white women to take a job at a lower level than the one they are qualified for," says a spokesperson from the EOC. "And of those seeking work, young Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are between three and four times, and Black Caribbean women two times, more likely to be unemployed than white women. For graduates the figures are worse still - Pakistani and Bangladeshi women graduates are around five times more likely, and Black Caribbean women graduates almost three times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts."

Not only are black and minority ethnic (BME) women statistically disadvantaged in pay and employment, they're disadvantaged in the type of work they're going into as well. BME women are disproportionately employed in the "four Cs" of traditionally low-paid and lower-skilled jobs - catering, care work, childcare and clerical. This kind of work tends to come bottom of the income bracket, and is less likely to offer the chance to gain accredited qualifications associated with higher earning jobs.

Lack of stability in the workplace is also an issue. "Black and Asian women are more likely to be working in temporary, less secure forms of employment than white women," says Liz Chinchen, TUC spokesperson. "Official statistics show that 9.4 per cent of black women and 8.3 per cent of Asian women, compared to just 5.7 per cent of white women, are on fixed term contracts or working as temps with an employment agency."

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, feels the research is a damning indictment of discrimination in the workplace: "Although black and Asian women have come a long way at work, employer attitudes and prejudices are still holding them back," says Barber. "Faced with a double-whammy of discrimination because of their gender and their colour, it's no small wonder that true equality at work is still some years away."

So what can be done to redress the balance? The TUC believes that greater access to training, childcare facilities, as well as dedicated time from union reps to specifically address the issue in their workplaces. Other groups argue that making young BME women aware of the opportunities available to them, and providing positive role models is a vital step.

Jessica Huie is the force behind ColorBlind Cards, a greeting cards company manufacturing products depicting black, mixed race, and Asian children. As a young mixed race women herself, Jess feels the lack of representation of ethnic groups can have a profound effect on children. "As a frizzy haired child growing up, I desperately wanted to look like Barbie," says Huie. "And I wonder if part of this was down to a lack of aspirational images I could relate to. As a mixed race mother of a black child, I found it impossible to find a greeting card which depicted beautiful black, mixed race or Asian children. In today's multicultural society it is imperative that all children have access to images which represent them and help instil self confidence and self worth."

Another important factor currently being addressed by the EOC is the sheer complexity of the issue. Young ethnic women are by no means a homogenous group, and the tendency of research to report on them as such can be confusing and even damaging. The experiences of a Chinese women growing up in London, for example, can hardly be compared with the experiences of a young Pakistani women in Bradford. In order to properly address the needs and concerns of these different groups, it is vital that the various issues are treated with the complexity by which they are characterised.

And despite another apparently negative round of research, things really are changing for the better for black and minority ethnic women. "There are some really good support networks out there, and the evidence suggests that this is a very entrepreneurial group," says Tania Salahuddin, who is the BME enterprise campaigner for the government-led Make Your Mark campaign. "I think people's expectations and ambitions are changing for the better and we need to work to supply positive role models."

The old-stereotypes of care work and public sector roles are changing too, as increasing numbers of BME women break into diverse employment fields from landscape gardening to law. "Young women must not be dismayed by the statistics out there," says Ranjit Dhindsa, partner in the employment team at Reed Smith "The business world is much more international than ever before. You have more of an advantage than you think, and there's a place for everyone at the party!"

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Trainee Digital Forensic Analyst

£17000 - £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Trainee Digital Fo...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Technical Support Analyst

£23000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cuu...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home