Macho work culture is leaving well-qualified women locked out of jobs in Britain’s key industries, TUC Congress heard yesterday.
Just one in eight science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) jobs are occupied by women.
And women also remain barred from male-dominated industries such as transport, construction, farming, forestry and some health sectors.
The Prospect union said many women qualified for the posts are put off by archaic attitudes towards them.
Communications director Sue Ferns said the situation was stunning 100 years after the death of suffragette Emily Davison and over 40 years since the Equal Pay Act.
“The current gap represents a huge loss of talent and perpetuates an unfair society,” she said.
“Even worse, many women qualify in Stem subjects but never use their academic qualification, or quickly leave their jobs for other occupations.”
Insecure employment, male-dominated work groups and entrenched prejudices against part-time working are major barriers, Prospect said.
It said that flexible working and mentoring schemes would help improve matters.
“Women can make a huge contribution to economic growth and productivity and employers need to embrace their talents and increase their representation at board level,” Ms Ferns said.
The Accord union also pointed out how pregnant women can expect to be sacked, have their hours slashed or be demoted.
They warned government plans to introduce employment tribunal fees will leave women open to further exploitation.
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