Equality & Diversity: End of the glass ceiling?

When challenged about whether sexism still exists in today’s world, the first thing most feminists point to is employment statistics.

It is undeniable that our gender still faces complex barriers. Kelly Rogers, our outgoing Women’s Officer, explains:

“The employment rate is just 70% for women, compared to 79% for men. The UK also has the highest gender pay gap in Europe, on average we earn 17% less than men per hour. The barriers faced by women are not merely about their sex, but intersected by their age, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, & gender identity.”

But this is all sounding a bit depressing… At the Autumn Career’s Fair I decide to find out what the recruiters think. It turns out, even though there are still issues with retaining female employees and getting women into top jobs, many of the companies I spoke to thought things were pretty good for graduates at least.

Sarah Bale, a Commercial Manager at M&S, thinks that retail is lucky to have so many confident female applicants. With many of the women she meets she’s found that “even though they had that knowledge and experience they didn’t vocalise it…you need to shout about it when you’re applying for jobs, big yourself up because [women] are not confident enough”.

Retail may be a sector with a lot of women, but what about the more male-dominated industries? For a perspective on this, I need go no further than my own sister who went into banking (often perceived as an ‘old-boys club’) when she left University a year ago. According to her recent experiences as a graduate, male-dominated industries are making the effort, with opportunities such as female-only events to inspire women to get to the top.

“They know that it’s beneficial to them to have a diverse workforce because there’s so much research that it creates more success…you want people who have different ideas because they challenge each other and don’t just conform.”

And that’s the key; women offer a different socialisation and a different life perspective. We need to combat the negatives of that, such as finding it harder to boast about ourselves, and push the benefits, such as a more empathetic leadership style. Companies are starting to see these benefits and want women in the top jobs even more than we do, so there’s nothing stopping you from going out into the big wide world of graduate employment and ending the gender pay gap once and for all.

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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