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Women doing housework or child care taking can also be because women are much better at it. Your reasoning leads to putting cleaning ladies to carry and empty bins, just because you want to enforce egalitarianism at all cost.

In that particular example I explicitly said that it wasn't about making men be cleaners and making women be bin collectors, it was about ensuring they are paid equally since the jobs and roles have been rated as being equivalent.

Where I discuss things such as male dominated areas of work - it is about making those environments more accessible for women so that thos ewho want to go there, can. eg I know of a fire station that has no female changing facilities - is that acceptable? Is that going to make women feel comfortable about going into that profession or working in that station?

I worked as an accountant in a garage once - the owner thought it was ok to open up a magazine full of pornographic images and show them to me.  There were no female sanitary facilities there. Would any female mechanics want to work in that environment every day? But maybe they'd like to be mechanics, but don't want to put themselves in those situations.

I pointed out in another post that I worked as a physical chemist and have no problem per se working in a male environment, but as soon as I realised that I would never be taken seriously as a young woman, then I knew I could never reach my potential there. Those attitudes that Linca has mentioned - that women will have kids and they will be the ones to look after the children - these assumptions about a woman's intentions, whether correct or not, put barriers in her way.  

I worked in a place where I repeatedly tried to get myself more responsibility, better and more challenging projects and my manager wouldn't give me anything more than monkey work. All the good work went to a colleague who initially had the same job spec as me, who was the same age, with almost identical qualifications but I had more experience than him and was equally capable of doing the work he was given. So I never had a chance to prove myself or progress, and in the space of months he got promotion after promotion until his salary was 10k more than mine.  This is the kind of thing I am talking about.  It was nothing to do with my inability to negotiate a better contract, it was down to my manager preferring to give the good work to a man and this is not a one off, rare example. It happens repeatedly to women. It happens to black people and disabled people too, and it comes down to prejudice, even if not conscious.

Where I talk about higher profile action to get more women involved, I am referring to the places where it is important to have a more representative or at least a higher proportion of women involved - key decision making and policy making roles, political representative roles.  

The absence of women there is damaging to our societies.  I don't like the fact that we need quotas and call them artificial if you like but they create change.  If there was nothing to say 'you must increase the proportion of women in X' then nobody will make the effort to look into why women are not getting to those positions, and nobody will try to remove those barriers and encourage women in. It isn't about creating a disadvantage for men or forcing women to do things they do not want to do, but it is about making these options available in a way they haven't been before and making people think about these things rather than ignoring it and saying 'women don't want to do it'.

This 'acting in business interests' is not just as valid for society because it is this practice that sees women overwhelmingly ending up in low skilled and low paid jobs, which affects how they can care for their children, which affects the social problems that we end up with in society. We aren't only looking at number monitoring, we are looking at research, attitude surveys, things that tell us why and how the imbalance occurs and whether it is an important one that needs to be tackled.

You make the point that disability laws for example should involve non-disabled people and not be made by disabled people alone (as if that would ever happen) but the reality here is that disabled people are barely involved in feeding into consultation on developing such laws, let alone being represented at the top decision making levels. It isn't like they are not trying to get there. Do you see the significance of that?

One more thing - going back to stereotypes around disability and gender - I got written off from the start.  My brother and sister were given a private education.  I was not. Because what is the point in investing money in a deaf kid who is never going to be able to achieve anything?  

This attitude is the same one that works against girls, against black kids, against disabled kids, against kids from working class families.  It affects their life chances from the day they are born.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 14th, 2008 at 06:08:05 PM EST
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