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Maria Miller's Demise - A Blow for Equality?

11th Apr 2014
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It could be argued that Maria Miller's demise does not bode well for equality.  There are now only three women in the cabinet and her role was filled by a man, Sajid Javid who is to become the new Minister for Equalities.

Women have long been under-represented in the government and particularly at senior level.  It was a miracle that Margaret Thatcher rose to the heady heights of Prime Minister and shattered the glass ceiling.  As she rose through the ranks she dyed her hair blonde in an effort to appear more feminine in response to criticism, however, once she got into power she chose to act like a man and had voice coaching to tone down her shrilly voice.  She was only interested in self-advancement however as there were few other women in her government and none in her cabinet.  She did little to advance equal pay or childcare.

Tony Blair's Labour government encouraged more women into the profession but it is still a male dominated environment.

Today in all professions there are very few women at the top and it is a struggle to get there.  Ruthlessness seems to be the key. Some women emulate men discarding their high heels and wearing trouser suits in an attempt to bury their femininity.

Women do have an important and equal contribution to make to the workplace.  So what can they do to improve their chances of making it big?

Well they should take on diverse and challenging assignments, taking every opportunity to develop new skills.  Having completed an accomplishment they should shout about it to the rooftops.  Women need to be visible and promoting their talents.  Hiding their light under a bushel will get them nowhere and they will be trodden on by the stampede of men eager to get to the top.  Men are naturally competitive and women should show more willingness to compete in a man's world.

Women should take more risks, after all nothing ventured nothing gained.  The "fake it till you make it" attitude should prevail.  Women should be open to any opportunity - who knows where it might lead.

Women should learn to be direct and succinct.  They should attempt to leave the soft and fluffy image to one side if they want to get ahead and get to the point without trying to wrap ideas and statements up in soft language and waffle.

But what can employers do to ensure that women have a helping hand to rise through the ranks?  Positive action in terms of recruitment and promotion are essential.  "Women are actively encouraged to apply as they are currently under-represented" should be included in job or promotion adverts.  Women should be given every opportunity to progress in the workplace and be included in succession plans being identified for roles at the top.

Flexible working for all employees comes into force in June 2014 and flexible working requests should seriously be considered by employers so that they can hold onto valuable women's skills rather than let them be a statistic in annual turnover or being a casualty of a poor work life balance attempting to have it all. Women should be assigned a mentor to help them develop and employee reward should be structured so that equal pay rules and the current gender pay gap is closed.

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