The Great Debate UK
Susan Buckingham is a Professor in the Centre for Human Geography and Director of Social Work, at Brunel University in West London. The opinions expressed are her own. Thomson Reuters is hosting a live blog on March 8, 2011, to mark International Women’s Day.
In a recent public lecture on “Changing Britain” at Brunel University, I explored the proposition that society is becoming feminised. I examined current pay and employment data to argue that, while some statistics can be used to argue that some women are becoming more equal with men in some areas, the failure of women to significantly penetrate key decision making bodies, and continuing horizontal job segregation means that “girl power” is more a chimera than reality in the UK today.
Drawing from my own research in the environmental sector, I propose that this is not only problematic for women, as they continue to earn less than their male counterparts and face additional barriers to career progression and being appointed in key decision making roles, but that the failure of the country to capitalise on a significant share of its experience, expertise and intellect limits society as a whole.
A cursory glance at education figures for the UK may suggest that gender equality is being achieved. More women students are entering higher education, and now outnumber men (59 percent of all students in 2008 – 2009). They outperform their male colleagues, with 64 percent of women students achieving 1st and upper second degrees in 2008 – 2009, compared with 59 percent of men.
from The Great Debate:
One of the concerns of working women is the “pay gap” – the alleged payment to women of 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man. But there are more behind these numbers than first meets the eye, because women work different hours, major in different subjects, and choose different careers.