Aspirational women in the workplace – the barriers women still face

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2014 National Women's Conference
10 October 2013
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that women make up 51% of the population and are a major contributor to shaping and enriching our communities. The current Coalition Government cuts have had a huge impact on the public sector, where the majority of the workforce are women. As a result women members have been disproportionally hit on a number of fronts.

Women remain under-represented in senior positions, even in professions where there are predominately female workforces. This is bad for society as the views of women are often excluded from the decision making processes.

For our future women leaders there are too few women to inspire them, and evidence shows that there is a lack of access to training, mentoring and support for women to take on more senior roles in workplaces. The greater the cuts to public services the more severe the effect upon women’s ability to develop and progress in their workplaces.

For many women, one of the major issues is career drop-out before they reach more senior levels often due to childcare or caring responsibilities. Sometimes there is barrier to women progressing professionally after becoming parents, and women are often given lesser roles following parenthood, being seen as choosing parenthood over a career. Additionally there is a lack of any real support to encourage women to progress outside of traditional roles, the term ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ is a very real issue for many of our women members.

Nevertheless conference does note that there are inspiring women, particularly in our Union structures, who do hold senior roles; and UNISON should celebrate and promote this achievement.

In the Northern Region women play a pivotal role in providing leadership, and we promote women to aspire and take on leadership roles. Women activists are offered mentoring and are encouraged to take part in positions throughout the union. Through the Northern Public Services Alliance support is offered to local campaigners, encouraging them to take part in activity and women have been at the forefront of this, often taking the lead in fronting campaigns.

Conference agrees it is imperative that women are at the forefront of the promotion of inspirational women in the workplace.

This conference asks the National Women Committee to:

1)To promote the publication and use of equality checks to ensure women are not disproportionally affected by cuts;

2)Work with branches and regions to encourage activists to promote policies within the workplace and to support progression and devolvement of women members;

3)Work with Regions to develop mentoring schemes for women activists; and

4)Work with our representatives on the TUC Women’s Group to work with the other trade unions to highlight the impact a lack of visibility of women in senior positions.