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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 02:39 GMT
Women 'missing' in top UK posts
Female worker
More high level part-time and flexible work would help women
Women are still largely absent in the top jobs at UK firms as well as in Parliament, the Equal Opportunities Commission has said.

Only 10% of directors of the UK's FTSE 100 firms are women, while under 20% of people in Parliament are female.

Change has been "painfully slow" in recent decades and ethnic minority women are notably missing in top roles.

The survey calculates that to begin redressing the imbalance, a further 6,000 women should be in top positions.

Equal numbers

The report - called Sex and Power: Who Runs Britain? 2007 - showed that while improvements have been made for the lot of women, in some cases women's outlook has worsened.

Ethnic minority women account for 0.4% of FTSE 100 directors and 0.3 % of those in Parliament, even though they represent 5.2% of the whole population and 3.9% of the labour market.

It is forecast to take 60 years to have the same number of female directors as men at FTSE 100 firms - a rise from last year's projection of 40 years following this year's fall in female FTSE directors.

It would take two more decades to gain equality in the civil service top management and four more decades to have an equal number of senior women in the judiciary.

And it would need up to two centuries, over 40 elections, to attain an equal number of women in Parliament.

Rwanda, Afghanistan and Iraq all rank more highly than the UK in terms of women's representation in Parliament.

Flexibility

To counter the discrepancy between men and women in top roles, the commission recommends that everyone has the right to request flexible working and that more high-quality, well-paid flexible and part-time work is available.

It also says political parties need to keep pursuing positive action to improve women's political representation, before the next general election.

The survey, which is produced annually, is the last Sex and Power report the commission will publish before it is folded into the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), later this year.


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