The Great Debate UK

Was Nigel Farage right about mothers in the City?

And the award for foot in mouth this week goes to… UKIP, again. This time it was leader Nigel Farage, who said that women who take time off to have children are worth less to their employer. He said this to an audience of (presumably) men in the City and rounded it off by saying there is no sexism in financial services and that childless women are more than a match for their male counterparts.

While I am not normally in the position of defending Nigel Farage, or any other politician for that matter, I think his comments deserve our attention and women should use them to trigger an important debate about mothers and the work place.

Farage said that women who take two to three years out to have children tend to be worth less to their employers because when they come back to work they don’t have the same client contacts etc. The media jumped on the back of his words and tried to use the ‘Farage is a bigot’ angle by citing examples of powerful women in the City who have had children. However, the media did women a great disservice since a lot of the high flying business women they spoke to took far less maternity leave than the two to three years that Farage was referring to.

Let’s take Marissa Meyer, the CEO of Yahoo. She took the job when she was seven months pregnant; however she only had three weeks maternity leave, worked throughout it and then built a nursery in her office. For some women that just wouldn’t cut it. They want to take their full allotment of maternity leave (one year) and when that is up they may choose to invest another year in their child’s upbringing. It is obvious that there is an element of self-sacrifice for the career women who choose to spend their child’s formative years at home with them compared to the women who waltz back in to the office after five or six months.

Thomson Reuters Newsmaker: Ireland and the Lisbon Treaty

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Political leaders gathered in Dublin to debate both sides of the controversial Lisbon Treaty and the implications it could have on the future of Europe.

The panel consisted of Micheál Martin, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigel Farage MEP, leader of UKIP, Mary-Lou McDonald, Deputy President of Sinn Fein and David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

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