Discrimination against women in the workplace often stems from the fact that we can get pregnant. One of the main reasons workplaces prefer to take on men over women is that it’s inevitable a women will, sometime in her future need to take maternity leave. In the UK maternity leave is 52 weeks (a year) and women are paid all through that time, provided they return to work after that designated time.
It is wrong that this discrimination happens, but it does, there is also the fact that after women do have children they often decide to stay off work until their children go to school. My own Mum did that. But then she went back to work and now owns her own business.
In some countries, for example, Germany, they have a creche in the office to encourage women to come back to work after having a child. They can bring their children to work with the. They have embraced the fact women need time to care for their children and have come up with a solution. Maybe that’s what we need here in the UK.
However, I do on some levels understand the reasons behind this discrimination, I used to have a teacher who had just come back from maternity leave, only to teach at school for one term and then leave to have a second baby. This seriously disrupted everyone’s learning and put us all behind, and I couldn’t help thinking that if she was considering having more children then she shouldn’t have come back to work.
It’s cases like that, that give women a bad name in that sense and discourage workplaces from taking us on if there are men in competition.
Paternity leave, though, is a different matter Men only get 1-2weeks of time off to spend with their new-born child. In my opinion I see this as quite unfair. In some cases in our modern society it’s the man who takes care of the children, although I’ll admit it is still largely seen as the women’s job. However, in the UK and many other countries women are becoming more and more equal to men, so this particular inequality is looking more and more dated. In my view it’s more stereotypical than anything else, although women may need more time off work to recover from giving birth.
Furthermore, I recently have done some work experience in my Dads office (a mobile network company) and found that a large proportion of the employees there are men. I think during the two days I was there I only encountered five other women (and it’s a very big company/office) and the company is global, showing that women all across the world don’t seem to do these jobs in the same way men do. I’m not suggesting that this has anything to do with discrimination, it just surprised me how little women work in this field. The company also have a group of volunteers that go around schools to encourage girls to go into this area.
I thought this was really good and it gladdened me that this company at least had addressed this problem and opted to do something about it. It also shows that gender discrimination in that office at least is non-existent.
Fliss Hince. Thank you for reading!