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Women have cracked the glass ceiling. Now let’s smash through it

19 August 2014

2:49 PM

19 August 2014

2:49 PM

It seems barely a day goes by without another crack appearing in the glass ceiling. This week, I found it particularly fitting that at the same time as record numbers of young women collected A-Level results in science subjects traditionally the preserve of men, Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the highest accolade in maths, the Fields Medal. Just days later, in front of a record audience, the England Women’s Rugby team lifted the World Cup for the first time in twenty years. From the lecture theatre and the board room to the sports field, women are continuing to break new ground, and the government is on their side.

There are more women working in this country than at any other point in history. More are working full time; in the last year alone 350,000 extra women have been employed, giving them greater financial security. Women are making great strides in all areas of business and it is a source of great pride to me that thanks to a sustained campaign from this government and the commitment of companies, this country now has a woman on every FTSE 100 board. Alongside this, there has been a huge increase in the number of SMEs run by women, with 20 per cent of SMEs now run either solely or mostly by women, and last week we launched the Home Business initiative to help more entrepreneurs. These developments highlight a significant shift in women’s place in modern Britain.

However, there is still much more to do and I am committed to using my position as Minister for Women and Equalities to ensure that our long term economic plan continues to deliver for women and their families.

That’s why I want to see more done to address the gender pay gap. While the gap has all but disappeared for women under 40, we all need to do more to reduce it – for women of every age, at all levels of employment.

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Our Think, Act, Report initiative is one way we’re doing this – encouraging business to take action by looking at the roles of women within their companies, comparing themselves to others, and setting meaningful targets to improve. This week saw the 200th company sign up and commit themselves to greater transparency around gender equality at work. These businesses recognise the benefits of this, helping them to attract, recruit and retain female talent.

We know that maternity discrimination by businesses continues; this is unacceptable and more needs to be done to combat it. We have recently announced £1 million to help the Equality and Human Rights Commission understand the extent of the problem, and report to us on how we can banish it entirely.

I strongly believe that no woman should have to choose between their career and their family and every woman should be able to decide whether they want to return to work after having children. We know that nearly a quarter of women have reported that they would increase their working hours if they could access good quality childcare. This isn’t just unfair to those women; it also means that the British economy loses out on a significant pool of female talent.

To tackle this, our government has already introduced legislation for Tax Free Childcare, which will come into effect next year alongside shared parental leave. Almost 2 million working families could benefit from up to £2,000 of support towards childcare costs and for the first time this government has made sure this support will be offered to those who are self-employed, doing more to help female entrepreneurs.

Organisations such as the 30% Club and the Women’s Business Council, led by Helena Morrissey and Ruby McGregor-Smith, are vital to supporting and inspiring women. I have gained a huge amount from watching successful female role models and I want to see more successful women, who’ve broken down barriers, offer their support and encouragement by sharing their experiences and mentoring other women. We have already recruited more than 6,000 additional women to be business mentors, and we’re also championing the Your Life campaign, to get more women studying science and maths subjects which are the pathway to a successful future. But I would like successful women from all walks of life to take on this role, through initiatives like Inspiring Women, which gets women talking to the next generation of girls about their lives and careers.

Clearing up the mess that the last Labour Government left behind hasn’t been easy. But we are starting to turn the corner and are now growing faster than any other major Western economy. This is a fantastic achievement, and the role women have played in all sectors of the economy in the upturn cannot be underestimated.

My ambition as Minister for Women and Equalities is to work towards a Britain where those young women who picked up their exam results last week are able to smash through the glass ceiling and embark on the next stage of their journey, with absolutely no limit on their aspiration.

Nicky Morgan MP is Minister for Women and Equalities.

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Show comments
  • Slicer

    It’s nice that Nicky Morgan admits that the government is on women’s side. After decades of social engineering policies by the government women still haven’t achieved all that much. Women as a class are bankrupt. Women do not generate anywhere near enough income for all the things the state provides them, that comes courtesy of men. If you take men’s contribution out of this country you have no economy, you have nothing at all. Women are essentially parasites. It’s no surprise that a mega parasite like the govenrment is ‘on their side’.

  • GraveDave

    It seems barely a day goes by without another crack appearing in the glass ceiling. This week, I found it particularly fitting that at the same time as record numbers of young women collected A-Level results in science subjects traditionally the preserve of men,

    So where will it take you that we’re not already going – thanks to MEN

  • Sean L

    All founded on the self-serving and untenable notion of *women* as a distinct political constituency. Women as a kind of special interest group. As if women in virtue of being women, as distinct from mothers, wives, workers, consumers etc, qualify as a political cause. But the only cause that’s served is that of the tiny number of masculine professional women who set themselves up as models for all women, causing untold misery and confusion for the mass of normal feminine women who don’t seek to emulate or emasculate men.

  • ukfred

    Before you try to set all this breaking of glass ceilings in stone, Nicky, you need to understand that this should affect all special needs employees, as Dalrock discussed:

    http://dalrock.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/special-needs-employees/

  • Advocatus_Diaboli_69

    When the first woman joined our all male firm of architects, to a man we all agreed that we couldn’t wait to see her crack through the glass ceiling.

  • Lo Bin Sun

    Stirring stuff. But who pays?

  • FellowHQ

    So, Nicky, what do you say about the fact that women under 30 now average more pay than men? Since you’re all for ‘equality’ presumably you want to see men earn more as they try to get their careers going in the face of fierce competition? Your entire job is about fostering aggressive competition between the genders so that women get ahead of men, not trying to achieve equitable equality.

    • GraveDave

      And how does it work that they get to retire a year earlier.

  • Dave Cockayne

    What a wonderful achievement.

    Record numbers of women rolling around drunk in the streets destroying their bodies,
    record numbers of women with STD’s,
    record numbers of women with crippling debts from worthless degrees working dead end jobs,
    record numbers of divorces,
    record numbers of children in single parent households,
    record house prices and rents making two full time salaries compulsory to put a roof over your head,
    record numbers of men out of work,
    record numbers of women over thirty with no children,
    record numbers of abortions.

    Behold, isn’t progress wonderful comrades!

    Please remember to tell all the jihadists that we are importing to make up for collapsing demographics that as they brutalise and behead you.

  • Liz

    You’ve posted in the wrong mag’ Ms Morgan, the Spectator is just a fanzine for perves and misogynist trolls.

    • Colonel Mustard

      And you are a particularly nasty misandrist troll. Don’t confuse hatred of women (misogyny) with dislike of aggressive feminist bigots (like you) and rejection of their divisive hate-based agenda.

    • Lo Bin Sun

      A soldier for New Matriarchy. You certainly get around the sites, Liz

    • GraveDave

      It’s true Liz, nowhere do I like being a troll more than on boards like this one. At the same time I am always first to hold open doors for a lady or
      or offer my seat to one.

  • Liz

    “record numbers of young women collected A-Level results in science subjects traditionally the preserve of men”

    Not in every country. We have a peculiarly chauvinistic culture.

    • Blindsideflanker

      What an absolute load of rubbish.

      As I said of MP’s talking to each other reinforcing the idea that they are hard done by, we are getting the same with women who in talking to each other confirm each others prejudice .

      On Radio 5 a women’s campaigner said that 2 women a week get killed by their partners, which is a load of rubbish. Of the 550 people killed here, 2/3ds are male, of the remaining 183, even when making the assumption that they are all mature women, 5% are killed by their partners which if my maths is correct is 9. But of course no one wants to correct them, so we get a load of prejudice built up on dodgy stats, which leads to rotten laws as is being proposed today.

  • JonBW

    It’s a shame that the ‘drive for equality’ only extends to change in favour of women.

    I wish I had the opportunities that women of my parents’ and grandparents’ had: to stay at home rather than going out to work, earlier retirement, that sort of thing.

    • Liz

      What’s stopping you?

      • JonBW

        The law (retirement) and cultural assumptions about gender roles on the whole.

  • Jacques Strap

    Yeah well if you women insist on living like us blokes, we will eventually thrash you in the life expectancy race.

    You live longer than the chaps and you still moan.

    Stick to the mirrored ceiling love, there’s a good lass.

    • Liz

      Women don’t live longer than men, it just feels that way because of their incessant whining.

      • Colonel Mustard

        You should probably re-phrase that.

  • Smithersjones2013

    When are the Tories going to cease with this endless bigotry?

    • Darnell Jackson

      Rug munchers one and all

  • Archibald Heatherington

    “England Women’s Rugby team lifted the World Cup for the first time in twenty years. From the lecture theatre and the board room to the sports field, women are continuing to break new ground”

    How does a team of women winning a competition exclusively contested by women constitute breaking new ground?

    • Blindsideflanker

      It would seem that Nicky Morgan is blaming English men for blocking the progress of the English women’s ruby team who have been struggling to beat other women’s rugby teams , a somewhat ludicrous argument.

      • Jacques Strap

        Puts the hooker into perspective…

    • vegemighty

      Somehow it would have been bad for women if New Zealand had continued to win as usual. Reminds me of a Los Angeles Times column that described 1996 as the “Summer of Women” because the US happened to win gold medals in team Gymnastics, Football, Softball, and Basketball. A USOC official even claimed that it would inspire “girls around the world”.

    • Liz

      It breaks the ground previously hogged by men winning competitions exclusively contested by men. (Ie. All of them).

      • Lo Bin Sun

        Then why don’t you set up your own competitions? No one is stopping, my little hog.

      • Archibald Heatherington

        And, dare I say it, men winning competitions also contested by women, in which women face no physical disadvantage, e.g. chess?

  • Lady Magdalene

    What a horrid article.

    There isn’t one word acknowledging that some mothers WANT to give up work for a few years to look after their pre-school children.

    There is no acknowledgement that the Government’s policies actively discriminate against stay-at-home mothers.

    And there isn’t one word about the needs of the children or whether it is desirable to have them farmed out to often poorly educated childminders and nursery staff, so that their mother can become a wage slave and taxpayer.

    If both parents choose to work full time, taxpayers should not be required to subsidise their childcare arrangements or their lifestyle choice; particularly if taxpayers are not also required to subsidise the childcare and lifestyle choice of stay-at-home mums by allowing them to transfer their tax-free allowance to their partner.

    • Colonel Mustard

      The sobering aspect is that this “horrid article” was written by a government minister. The Conservatives have really bought into the propaganda and manipulative language of the feminist left.

      • Lady Magdalene

        There’s very little difference between Labour and BluLabour.. And the wimmin MPs for each party seem to be interchangeable.

  • Blindsideflanker

    Exactly what glass ceiling did the English women rugby team smash, other than finally managing to win against other women’s teams?

  • Peter L

    Could we please stop this nonsense about the “gender pay gap”? If it doesn’t exist beneath age 40, and if at age 30 women actually earn more than men, any issue is the result of educational and career choices made decades ago.

    £1m to the EHRC for a report? In summary, it will say “Spend more money on people like us”. Every report ever commissioned by any Government always does.

    Time to stop shovelling taxpayers’ money to special interest groups and get on with reducing Government waste and inefficiency.

    • Alexsandr

      women fall behind because many of them take a break to have kids. When they go back they will have fallen behind in the promotion race. They may even need some retraining to bring them back up to speed.
      Thats why women have a lower pay when they are older. That is a result of their decision to have kids. I think they will have to live with it.

  • LadyDingDong

    The great Lady, Margaret Thatcher, smashed the glass ceiling 35 years ago. Unfortunately, her female successors have been sweeping up the fragments ever since. The only one I see fit to walk in her shadow is Theresa May, but as I say, in her shadow. As for the men……

    • Kitty MLB

      Well said my lady. Apparently when asked why there were
      not more women in her government.Margaret Thatcher replied : because they’re not good enough..a huge spot of
      honesty.

    • Chris Morriss

      This high regard for Theresa May seems to be almost wholly a female thing. Most men seem to see her as a frightening fairy-tale witch.

      • Lo Bin Sun

        Quite a collection of them these days: YAB, Hattie, Munch, Stubble and Tessie

  • Alexandrovich

    ” We have recently announced £1 million to help the Equality and Human
    Rights Commission understand the extent of the problem, and report to us
    on how we can banish it entirely.”

    I’m amazed by the amount of drains you can sluice our money down.

    • Lady Magdalene

      Yes. Anyone would think the £1trillion debt was a figment of our imagination.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “…to ensure that our long term economic plan continues to deliver for women and their families.”

    You do realise what a discriminatory statement that is don’t you? What about men and their families? What about men and women and their families?

    Where you should be going with this, rather than playing Labour’s game of creating and characterising an identity group as disadvantaged and then giving it special privileges through contrived social engineering and tokenism, is to try to make gender irrelevant.

    You seem confused about what equality means. It doesn’t mean discriminating against merit or against men. And it doesn’t – or shouldn’t – mean giving special privileges to women.

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      ‘Discriminating against merit’ is indeed a real threat. Your phrase sums up the problem perfectly.

      • Liz

        So let girls into Eton and all the other male only shortlists.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Eton is an elite boys only school. Roedean is an elite girls only school.

          http://www.roedean.co.uk/

          So don’t be so silly.

        • Lo Bin Sun

          Let boys into Roedean.

          • Liz

            Roedean isn’t a parliamentary feeder school.

        • Slicer

          Why would the mighty females wish to go to all male schools? There are plenty of female-only schools.

    • SgtVimes

      You are quite right that equality doesn’t mean discriminating against merit or against men. Unfortunately you seem to have missed the discrimination against talented women that has been holding back the UK for generations. If the promotions are handed out by men selecting candidates in their own image we will never get anywhere. We need to end the “boys clubs” in particular those in the city and in politics.

      • Alexsandr

        what about the discrimination against those who dont have kids, because they have chosen not to, because they cant or because their kids have grown up. The state just keeps on taking and giving to others.

        It has to stop.

        Nicky talks about tax free childcare. But it isn’t free is it? Because those who don’t have kids will be paying for it.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Tripe.

        • Blindsideflanker

          Nicky Morgan hasn’t said anything about Bercow’s appointment of Ms Mills to the Clerk of the House of Commons.

          I wonder if that appointment is what she means by breaking the glass ceiling?

      • Chris Morriss

        Vetinari won’t promote you, you know, if you keep coming out with drivel like this!

      • Peter L

        I’ve spent my life working in industry. I’ve interviewed and recruited thousands of people and never seen any manager discriminating on any grounds other than ability. Two main reasons:

        (1) The football manager who chooses underperformers will soon be relegated and out of a job. So would I be.

        (2) Most of us have a moral compass. We also have wives, girlfriends and daughters for whom we expect a level playing field.

        We expect nanny state-ism from Hattie Harpon and her cronies
        – not from Tory Cabinet Ministers.

    • John Dalton

      Good luck to all these “strong, confident, independent women” who want
      to run the country. They fought hard for their “equality” and I hope
      they enjoy it.

      Just don’t berate me for being a proud, straight, white male. Don’t get in my way. And don’t expect any special treatment whatsoever – because you won’t get it. It’s about time men got their balls back.

      And don’t blame me if you end up coming home from running your “empire” to a cowering beta male or an empty flat and a cat called Tibbles.

      • Lo Bin Sun

        Worse, when those bad mans come running over the hill, don’t look to me, a fat, balding, middle-aged white male, for help.

        I’ll be making like Ferdinand, lying under a tree, smelling the flowers.

        Emancipated women, I’m sure they’ll agree, can do their own fighting.

        Hey, I’ve just had a thought: with all this smashing and stomping going on, perhaps those bad mans will turn out to be bad womans.

        Jeez, then what do we do?

  • Magnolia

    How do you feel, as Minister for Women and Equalities, about the approximately 70% female to 30% male ratio of gender of medical students in our universities nowadays?
    Young men and women need at least three very good science A-levels to get a place at Medical School. Are these women wasting their talent and is it a good thing that the subject no longer attracts young men with good science A-levels?

    • Blindsideflanker

      She won’t care a dammed, matriarchs on the march are a very one eyed bunch.

      • Magnolia

        Yes that is the point I’m making really that her piece could have been written by any New Labour babe. The left’s idea of equality is far from equal.

  • HJ777

    “We know that nearly a quarter of women have reported that they would increase their working hours if they could access good quality childcare. This isn’t just unfair to those women; it also means that the British economy loses out on a significant pool of female talent.

    To tackle this, our government has already introduced legislation for Tax Free Childcare, which will come into effect next year alongside shared parental leave. Almost 2 million working families could benefit from up to £2,000 of support towards childcare costs…”

    Rather than the government interfering, would it not simply be better to give parents a child tax allowance (i.e. give the child their own transferable tax allowance) and allow transferable personal allowances within a marriage? The government should be completely neutral about the choices women (and men) make when it comes to work and family and should try not to penalise or incentivise any particular option.

    • MrsDBliss

      Exactly. This is all about women achieving one type of lifestyle – and it’s not the traditional one. We’ve been harassed into work by this government to pay for all these pet projects.

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