Women continue to be under-represented in top jobs across sport, law and politics, study suggests

'We are wasting women's talent and skills', charity says

Sarah Young
Sunday 12 January 2020 15:37 GMT
No country in world set to achieve gender equality by 2030

Women are missing out on top jobs across a variety of sectors, showing that a “step change” is needed to boost the number in senior roles, campaigners have said.

The study by the Fawcett Society – the UK's leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women's rights – also suggested there was an “alarming” lack of women of colour across top jobs.

The group added that its research highlighted the “dismally” slow pace of change across sectors ranging from sport to law.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “Despite much lip service about the importance of having women in top jobs, today's data shows we are still generations away from achieving anything close to equality.

“We are wasting women's talent and skills.”

The organisation’s report detailed the number of women currently holding top positions in different sectors, including the following:

Law: The Fawcett Society states that the supreme Court has just two female justices out of 12 (17 per cent). Since its formation in 2009, there has never been a Supreme Court Judge who is a person of colour.

Business: Women make up just over one in 20 chief executives of FTSE 100 companies, which remains unchanged since the society's last report in 2018. None are women of colour.

Education: Women make up 39 per cent of secondary head teachers, a figure which also has not changed since 2018 and has risen by just six per cent since 2005. Women make up 30 per cent of university vice-chancellors, but only one per cent of university vice-chancellors are women are colour.

Media: Women make up 21 per cent of national newspaper editors, with just four women in the top jobs.

Sport: Women make up 21 per cent of national sport governing body chief executives, a drop from 26 per cent in 2018. Only four per cent of Premier League clubs are led by women.

House of Commons: 34 per cent of MPs are women – up only two per cent in the recent election. Women of colour now make up 17 per cent of the women MPs, which is in line with the population as a whole.

House of Lords: The percentage of women in the House of Lords is at 27 per cent, which is significantly lower than the Commons and up by only one per cent since 2018. Only two per cent of all peers are women of colour.

Devolved Parliament/Assemblies: There are no women of colour in the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales or the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Cabinet: 30 per cent of the Cabinet are women and 47 per cent of the Shadow Cabinet.

Civil service: Approximately a third of permanent secretaries are women (up from 31 per cent in 2018 to 34 per cent currently). There are no women of colour in these roles.

In light of its findings, the Fawcett Society has called on the government, political parties, the judiciary and employers to take measures to increase the numbers of women in senior roles.

The society added that there should be quotas, targets and policy interventions to remove the barriers to women's progression.

The study follows a recent report from the Gender Equalities Office which found that women are significantly less likely than men to be offered a promotion at work after having children.

The data showed that just 27.8 per cent of women were in full-time or self-employed work three years after childbirth, compared to 90 per cent of new fathers.

The data also showed that women who did return to work after becoming a parent were two thirds less likely to get promoted in the five years after the child was born compared to their male counterparts with 26 per cent of fathers receiving promotions or moving to a better job compared to 13 per cent of mothers.

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