Is it time to call a halt to equal opportunities policies in the workplace?

4 Jan

Equal opportunities polices have done their job in the workplace, helping to narrow the gender pay gap to 10%, and giving women more choice than ever over their careers – if they choose whether not to have one.

That’s according to a study – Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine, The flawed thinking behind further calls for equality legislation – by Catherine Hakim, economist with the London School of Economics, for the Centre for Policy Studies.

The research suggests that maybe women don’t want to smash the glass ceiling after all, and that many women may choose jobs a few rungs lower down so they can spend time with their family. The differentials in pay and position, and the fact that pace of change has been slow at the top, Dr Hakim says are not “proof of widespread sex discrimination and sex-role stereotyping” but rather “the result of personal choices and preferences”.

The report has prompted a raft of emotive headlines, such as that women would still prefer to marry a rich man than stride their way into the boardroom. While I may not personally agree with all report’s conclusions, or the resulting clatter of anti-feminist reponses, in my opinion, Christine Odone, writing in The Telegraph, makes the most salient point: that women have never been man-haters in the first place; nor are they necessarily ready to stab a female colleague in the back with a five-inch stiletto if it means they’ll reach a senior position more quickly.

I have never agreed with feminists who declare that women should be entirely equal to men, in terms of bank balance, status and attitude. That, to me, defeats the point, as it doesn’t play to women’s strengths, and merely helps women ape the behaviours and attitudes of the men with whom they’re meant to be waging war in a gender battleground.

This report suggests that this battle is over, and may just take the pressure off women who are trying to ‘have it all’. It certainly puts a new perspective on the call for quotas to achieve boardroom equality. Ultimately, it suggests that equality legislation may have achieved what, surely, feminism was about in the first place: giving women freedom of choice.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: