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Last Updated: Monday, 5 January, 2004, 00:23 GMT
More women 'should get top jobs'
Family relaxing together
The role of men and women in families is changing says the EOC
Women still do not hold enough posts of influence in business and other spheres of UK life, according to new research.

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has called for barriers to women's progress to be dismantled.

EOC chairman Julie Mellor said: "Almost 30 years since the Sex Discrimination Act was passed, women are still massively under-represented in positions of influence in Britain."

Top decision-makers in the UK were still overwhelmingly male, she added.

The EOC research found the lives of people in this country were changing, with women having babies later and men spending more time with their children.

Open the door of any boardroom or council chamber and the chances are that most people around the table will be men
Equal Opportunities Commission report

In its report, Sex and Power: Who Runs Britain?, the EOC said women made up 9% of top business leaders, 9% of national newspaper editors, 7% of the senior judiciary, and 7% of senior police officers.

Women accounted for 23% of top management in the civil service and 18% of MPs, but sex equality was "far from sorted", the commission said.

'Bad for business'

The report said that most organisations had the same kind of people in positions of influence, leaving public, political and business life in Britain "massively unrepresentative" of society.

"It's not democratic, it's not balanced and it's not good for business," it said. "Open the door of any boardroom or council chamber and the chances are that most people around the table will be men."

The UK's long hours culture and too little flexibility in working patterns often prevented women from reaching the top of their professions, said the EOC.

Employers were urged to promote flexible working, and the EOC added that positive action should be used where women were under-represented in public life.

"No-one can argue any more that it's just a matter of time until more women make it to the top - there have been talented women coming up in business, public life and politics for years," it said.

Recent EOC figures indicated families missed out on 7,622.40 a year as a result of the pay differences between men and women.

However, women seem to be doing better in the traditionally male dominated world of the City of London.

A Financial Times survey found that one in five City fund managers are women.

The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"It was in 1975 that the sex discrimination act came into force"

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