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Parliamentary committee wants your views on issues faced by working women

(127 Posts)
FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-Dec-12 11:48:00

The House of Commons' Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into Women in the Workplace. The Committee is examining what steps are being taken to tackle workplace gender inequality, and what more should be done.

The Committee is keen to hear Mumsnetters' views on this issue, in addition to the formal evidence sessions that will take place in Westminster.

They are especially interested in your opinion on:

*Obstacles for women wishing to progress in the workplace
*Issues faced by women wishing to return to work following childbirth
*The gender pay gap
*Flexible working

This is not an exhaustive list: the Committee welcomes your comments on any area within the inquiry's terms of reference, which are available on the Parliament website


cafecito Wed 19-Dec-12 15:29:27

In my firm, children were very much seen as something you do after you have made Partner and you are married or whatever and have various houses. There was not any realisation that sometimes life isn't like that, and I felt I could have easuly been labelled for having a child young, and moreover I felt I was viewed as a risk because I'd already had a child, they viewed me as someone who could just go off and have another one at any time. That;s the real problem with women who have children I thin - the concern the eye is off the ball and once you've had one or two, you might take maternity leave and have another even if that's something you'd never do

cafecito Wed 19-Dec-12 15:26:27

(I didn't just stop working, I'm a workaholic and I'm a full time student now but face similar childcare problems- the nationalised childcare grant system doesn't cover half my son's nursery fees) However I can see why many would think there's no point in working.

cafecito Wed 19-Dec-12 15:24:50

I worked in a city law firm full time and I found it very hard. Although I had a good salary, I was not earning enough as a junior to afford to pay for my flat, living expenses, and a nanny on top and so I was left searching for childcare. However nurseries are ridiculously expensive (the cheapest I could find was £1000 a month, the one which would have been better was £1700). So cost of childcare, problems with working hours - who wants an employee who has to 'slope off' as my boss put it, to collect DC? and also the consideration of working single mothers - there may be no back up, I had no family in London, I was on my own juggling it.

I think the main problem is the childcare cost. It's prohibitive. I was paying out more each month to go to work than I would get in.

Xenia Sun 16-Dec-12 09:29:20

PPP, it will be new businesses and existing businesses expanding which will get us out of this recession or part of the reason so we certainly need to encourage women to do that. I do. If we looked at the women who earn £1000 a day thread on mumsnet most did work for themselves or owned the company. I work very hard because I love the work and have just done a bit now early on Sunday morning but I can work when I choose. I certainly choose to work 50 weeks a year and often do work 6 or 7 days a week but I decide.

I do think the key issues are (a) women marry men who earn more - they marry up so when it comes to who gives up work the women do (b) women tolerate sexist men / sexist men exist so women working full time sometimes (although gosh not most of us who would not for a second tolerate unfairness ta home) end up doing more than men at home even though both work full time.

It is very hard to generalise about what would most help women. This Government will not get elected next time unless it can swing the female vote. With a cabinet with so very few women in senior roles and the impact its policies have had on the poor (more women than men are poor as they make foolish choices to stat at home, not work, work part time or rely on men.. never wise). So if I were the Government given there is no money at all available really for anything and much much bigger cuts needed things like tax deductibility of childcare costs will not be economically possible, forcing all the small employers of the UK (where most people work) to allow their workers to force part time working on them will not work. Non transferable paternity leave rights will be a cost unless they cut women's current rights back.

Some kind of free childcare for those on benefits with under 5s so that they have to work would keep middle England happy. The benefits claimants could mind the children of other claimants so it could probably be self funding. You take your child for 7.30am to the centre where it is fed breakfast by benefits claimants and you get on the bus or walk to your 8 hour a day job as so much of middle England of both sexes does and collect it in the evening. if you don't want that they you either don't get pregnant or you marry someone who can keep you or move countries. Workfare. None of this namby pamby if your child is under 5 you cannot possibly be separated from the precious little darling if you're on state benefits.

My own preference would be for abolition of all tax allowances, child benefit, tax credits and in its place a low flat tax and much smaller state and much less regulation.

mam29 Sun 16-Dec-12 08:51:18

Well the abuse started whilst being pregnant

cross as had 2weeks off sick during 1st trimester-nearly hospitilised.

I was then moved to literally the rougher deprived stores with staffing issues as in hardly any staff as last dipstick manager has flexed up his kids over summer and then was september and had no one.

The ones i had were sick, late or useless. some days did 10-12hour days, xmas as coming so was getting busier, food retail is crap, area manager was sexists tosser who just had ago unrealistic veiws of what I could achive if he wasent having a go about standards, it was availiabilty or overspend on wages.. During this time i was sick every day remember it well there was no suport at 8mo9nths preant i was dragging cages of stock off back of lorry as there was no one else.

I then had child had full year off-company paid 1st 6weeks 90%then smp.

My husband was store manager with same company different region,
I was store manager des if hadent left for maternity would have got my own store but gavce it to aman whilst i was off.

when i went back hr and new area manager -had formal meeting which was these are the terms if you come back you need to accept them- when complained i required my on store i was signed off then then said due to being off i needed retraining.

this led to them moving me to different stores a lot very far from home some very rough, felt so stressed out and upset.

when dd1 started nursery fullt ime it was oover £800per month and ony 8-6 sometimes be late due to traffic and they would get stroppy no nurserys went up to 7, none open weekend, they closed for eek at xmas retails busiest time. in retail we expected to work weekends, bank hols.

dd1 as sick a lot every bug going.

I remember vividly me covering storemanagers week off.
nursery rang I couldent leave as as no one.

rang hubby ho orked an hour away-he went to get her.
I then get call from my area manager saying just had angry call from hubbys areas manager. why had he abandoned his store-he left supervisors and keyholders in charge but his boss was annoyed he came to see him and wasent there and implied it was my job.
I told my area manager straight that im on his patch and i couldent abandon the store on his patch as i had no management cover to lock up store and he should tell the other manager to take a running jump.

in all fairness hubby got just as much crap from his boss over sickness as I did.

They discriminated against me so badly in end decided to leave.
I should have taken the to tribunual but I dident want the fuss was too crap they had made me feel worthless like wasent good enough.

moved to another foodr etailer where i declined to mention unless asked if had child. hubby had changedd company so had more flexibility and during training period i made sure i put hours in was seen to be seem and did really well until new regional started ho clashed with him over not being there one evening when he popped in i had done my shift and gone to pick child up from nursery . he then gave me lecture about kids and responsabilities of store and how im limiting future career progression.
So I left.

Me and hubby hardly saw each other.
we had no family or freinds locally
i was earning 400 a month after petrol/nursery.

I quit just before the crash.

Then i tried to get part time jobs-must have applied to 50 i ad 10years retail experience, degree, a levels, gcses.
I have never struggled to find work .

I want part time work even stuff thats min wage be nice but cant even get that as have to work arounds hubbys shifts he does 40-50hour a week

Over the years i keep looking but most employers want fully flexible.

Before I left shitty company no 1-A place where mums love and kerry katona as highly regarded it was very open in mangers meeting that fixed set shifts were to go so that included cashiers with kids and we want people are our beckon call to do weekend and evenings.This is a trend in retail maybe other areas.

I recently applied for few xmas jobs and dident get them
saying i dident have enough experience,
hubby says was probably standard message they had to many applicications and say cut off at first 50.

Hubby last year advertised a 8hour temp flexible position and got 200aplications in 3days.

its an employers market full flexible and mothers are not.

I feel discrimination goes on all the time sadly.

unless your employer you worked for prior kids was child freindly
or you work public sector in job share, parts of nhs quite flexible and have much more generous maternity provision.

I do know 1person who works in insurance and has onsite nursery and flexi hours but thats rare and shes was quite high up the chain before she had kids.

As for when they get older.

preschools 9-3 term times only

schools only have 1 in school but for me to go back fulltime i be looking at £100 a day nursery for 2younger kids so £500 +school age child be looking at 50ish so £2200 a month on childcare thats hubbys takehome pay on 40k im no where near that pay bracket.

schools really do have so much time off
so many occasions
half days
random inset days
the afterschool clubs dont run late enough dd old school stopped at 5.30. 1teacher i know used childminder as needed to leave before 8 when brekkie club started and pick up later.
new school has brekkie club but no afterschool childcare provsion they have clubs latest they go onto is 4.30.

old school had outside provider for holidays £60 week but often only ran for 1 week.

I say stop tax credits

start paying and providing reasonably priced childcare for all ages.

its not even like nursery staff get paid much more than min wage their pays just as dismall..

nursery £40 day including meals seems reasonable
its just peoples wages so low and have more than 1 child no family backup you screwed.

I dont know what to do for future. i say ahh when youngest starts school but school hours no easier to juggle than now.
We could do with 2nd income finacially.
will keep trying to get something in new year a job that i can easily do underselling my worth and capability.
I love my kids but would love a career too.

Thourght about retraining but cant afford 9grand a year tuition fees and childcare on top so feel stuck and trapped.

Keep thinking start own business but dont know hat and its tough economic climate out there.

PPPop Thu 13-Dec-12 14:37:53

I'd love to run my own business. I've come to the conclusion that that is the only way to make serious money, be in control of when you work and get better job satisfaction. There should be greater support in this area to help women work out how they can apply their skills in an entrepreneurial way.

PPPop Thu 13-Dec-12 14:34:37

I often see articles about senior women and how they did it, but they nearly always worked full time and I can't relate to them. Why should we conclude that you can only get ahead if you only work full time? Plenty of women don't want to do that, and because PT working is not valued, they don't get ahead. I don't think anything will change if you say, well the only way to do this is to work FT.

wanderingalbatross Thu 13-Dec-12 14:02:30

I think it's true Xenia that there aren't enough successful women in the press talking about how they did it. Plus in my career so far, I've never really come across any senior women who've successfully juggled career and children. Plenty of child-free middle management women, but no real senior figures. Which all adds to the general feeling of "well maybe i should just give up because perhaps it can't all be done" when you're thinking of what to do post-kids. I am far too stubborn to give up, but I can see just how easy it is to make the decision to step back in your career and have everyone pat you on the back for it.

Xenia Thu 13-Dec-12 12:59:40

wandering, I earned 10x him so not surprisingly I am very happy and kept a great career and continue to do well and never wanted to go part time. Surely that is the answer - ensure women do not always "marry up" and that they never put their careers second and that a load of women like I am who earn a lot and have lovely large families, work full time and get huge satisfaction from their children and careers get some publicity. We never do. All press articles are about moaning minnies who want to work 2 hours a day but not do the housework.

I agree that childfree women often do not do as well but even they are tarred with the same brush as skiver women. If most women want part time hours and are not very committed those of us who are are stigmatised by those other sexist women - every decision by a woman to put her man first is a stab in the back from other working women. The personal is political on these issues.

I accept there is also some sexism although plenty of we women simply vote with our feet, found our own companies and outearn earn men which is huge fun and gives you total control. I sometimes mention here my island but really the better illustration of the "success" is lots of lovely children in fee paying school - women working in good careers can achieve that. women working 2 hours a day in Tesco can't. Get with the programme (see women who ear £1000 a day threads) and you can have a great life. I am not against board quotas as plenty of people don't drink, play sport or share things with other male white board members which has an effect on promotions. I would have liked the new Bank of England Governor to be female and new director general of the BBC but this Government whose cabinet senior posts are packed the gills with white middle aged men is not remotely interested in appointing women to senior positions.

QueenofWhatever Thu 13-Dec-12 12:56:51

Some of the posts yesterday evening were about the lack of part-time jobs advertised. Every job I've had since DD was born was advertised as full-time but I apply regardless. I'm upfront about it and usually give the recruiting manager a call first to see if they would be interested in an application from me. 8/10 it's a yes.

This also goes back to a point that Xenia makes - be really good at what you do. I can say I've done X for Y years, I've delivered A, B and C. Most (although I accept not all) are more interested in what you can do for them rather than can you sit in an office five days a week.

I read this book a few years ago which really helped - only 22p on Amazon!

slug Thu 13-Dec-12 12:22:48

loved blush

slug Thu 13-Dec-12 12:22:31

It's not about children or part time. The effect remains whether or not they have children. Quite a large percentage of the women in the UK workforce don't currently, or never have had children. Yet they are still paid significantly less.

I lived this explanation of the problem

bigkidsdidit Thu 13-Dec-12 10:53:07

I don't know

There must be data on whether there's a pay gap between eg 50 year old professional childless women and men?

Anyway, must go into the lab now smile

wanderingalbatross Thu 13-Dec-12 10:38:46

Is it not 'they have children and go part time'?

I don't know if it's that simple? Plenty of women don't go part-time, as there aren't that many part-time jobs around. Would love to read some proper research into this, but not sure if anyone's looked at it in detail?

bigkidsdidit Thu 13-Dec-12 10:23:25

Is it not 'they have children and go part time'?

That's probably the article I read and mis-remembered slightly. I didnt pick up on your point about marrying up, sorry.

wanderingalbatross Thu 13-Dec-12 10:14:57

bigkids I came across this article in the Guardian from last year, but it's about women in their early 20s earning more. It also says the effect starts to disappear by late 20s at about the time women start having kids. I have heard a few senior women say something similar recently - that when they were starting out it seemed like an even playing field, but by the time they got to senior positions the balance of power had shifted towards the men and they couldn't really explain why. I also see among my own friends that lots of the women are in highly paid professional jobs, but they still don't outearn their husbands who are in higher paid professional jobs. So not really sure what the answer is, and what happens in those years bridging the junior and senior positions??

FivesGoldNorks Thu 13-Dec-12 09:25:18

Thanks wandering, food for thought. I think what riles me is the basic assumption that all things child related are within the remit of the mother which Dh ans I are as guilty of as anyone else. I have a flexible job and so can usually make school plays etc. Last year I shifted my hours to go to dd's nativity while Dh went to work as normal. This year Dh made his leave start on nativity day and so will be going. Despite the fact ill be working from home, I can't spare the time so ill be "going to work" as normal. Yet the questions from the grandparents are starting...

bigkidsdidit Thu 13-Dec-12 09:14:16

I'll have a search for you wandering - I read it somewhere a while ago, I'll have a think!

I do think we have to be careful with the flexible working etc to make sure it doesn't become someting just women do, like part-time, and therefore another easy way to discriminate

Xenia Thu 13-Dec-12 09:09:10

So we seem to b e concluding ensure women do not make the mistake of working part time or flexi time any more than men do and all will be well. So it is an education of girls point - go part time at your peril, it can ruin your life and also ensure inequality in your relationship at home and much less money. Eradication of sexism in terms of expectations that only muggins women will do dross domestic stuff and home and forcing men to do as much as women at home.

wanderingalbatross Thu 13-Dec-12 08:54:28

bigkidsdidit do you have any more info? I also remember something recently about 30 something women out earning the men, but I thought it was only in certain places and certain industries. And even then, it wouldn't necessarily translate to women earning more than their husbands due to the 'marrying up' effect. Would love to be wrong on this though!

PPPop Wed 12-Dec-12 22:12:18

When I say 'during' I don't mean actual childbirth grin

I mean maternity leave and beyond.

PPPop Wed 12-Dec-12 22:10:54

I also think this issue is linked with boardroom quotas (which I don't think I agree with). The reasons why there are few women on boards, are the same as many of those discussed on this thread. Sort out the issues of supporting women along their career path, before, during, and after children and the number of women on boards will increase.

BornToFolk Wed 12-Dec-12 22:08:46

After school care is causing me major headaches at the moment. I work part time but need before and after school care 2 days a week. DS is currently going to the school's breakfast club (which is great and cheap) and a childminder picks him up after school, but she won't be able to do this from Jan and I can't find another one.
The school does run after school clubs but they don't run at the time (for example not in the last week of term) so it's not a really reliable solution but I can't see what else I can do. I can't drop any more hours at work (firstly I can't afford to and secondly I'm not allowed to, there are minimum hours we have to work).

Adversecalendar Wed 12-Dec-12 22:04:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 12-Dec-12 21:56:19

I always find it particularly ironic when I read about employers complaining that young people today can't do basic maths or write good English.
So employ middle-aged women!

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