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Women facing an achievement cliff following education

Leading lawyer describes women encountering an 'achievement cliff' when entering the workplace

7 March 2014

A leading discrimination lawyer has called on the Government to stop labelling essential workplace safeguards as ‘red tape’ and to not only retain but strengthen the laws on sex discrimination in the workplace to truly inspire change on this year’s International Women’s Day (8th March 2014).

Elizabeth George a specialist in discrimination law at the law firm Leigh Day claims that despite out-performing men throughout education, women drop off an ‘achievement cliff’ as soon as they enter employment.

In 2013 72.3% of girls attained A*- C grades, compared to 63.7% of boys, with 68% per cent of degrees gained by women in 2012 were a first or 2.1, compared with 63% for men.

Despite this clear advantage only 22% of MPs are women, women make up only 20% of Board members of FTSE 100 companies and across all sectors in the UK a woman will generally earn 18% less than her male equivalent.

In 2011 David Cameron announced the Red Tape Challenge for “harnessing the experience and ideas of those who deal with regulation day-in, day-out to help us cut red tape.”

As recently as last month was again promising small businesses he would cut red tape and help businesses.

However, Elizabeth George from the employment team at Leigh Day explained:

“Through the reduction of regulation and greater limits on workers rights, many companies are missing out on the brightest and the best because of ingrained prejudice at a managerial level which blights their business and the careers of those women within it.

“What we are asking the Government to do, by rolling back from its headline-grabbing war on ‘red tape’, is to stop the rhetoric which assumes regulation is a bad thing and embrace it to protect women and help boost business.”

The calls for change come on International Women’s Day, which encourages advocacy for women's advancement and challenges the status quo for women's equality and vigilance inspiring positive change. With events up and down the country the day has grown since it was first observed in the early 1900s and is celebrated around the world.

Elizabeth George, concluded:

“To inspire change the shackles must come off. Women, in all countries, must feel free to achieve their aims in life without being held back solely on account of their gender. In this country the ‘Achievement Cliff’ girls fall off as they enter work must be addressed.”

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