Non-white British women suffering lower pay, fewer jobs and glass ceiling

2006

Young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women in Britain face higher unemployment, lower pay and a glass ceiling in the workplace, despite generally doing well at school, a report has suggested.

The study by the Equal Opportunities Commission found that 16-year-old Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean girls had the same aspirations as white girls to combine work and family life, and were even more ambitious about their education and future careers.

In their GCSE exams at age 16, Pakistani and Bangladeshi girls had overtaken white boys and were quickly catching up with white girls, and Black Caribbean girls were not far behind.

All these girls had already overtaken boys in their ethnic groups, added the EOC.

Yet, despite high ambitions and investment in education, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women employees under 35 were experiencing heavy penalties when they wanted to work.

This included higher unemployment, a lower glass ceiling than white women and, for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women at least, lower pay.

Most worked in a restricted range of sectors and jobs, added the EOC.

More than 90 per cent of employers strongly agreed with the business case for employing black and Asian women.

Yet nearly six out of 10 employers in areas with above average numbers of black and Asian people did not have a workforce that reflected the number of black and Asian women in or seeking work.

More than three in 10 did not employ any black or Asian women at all, the survey found.

Many of the young women in these groups reported they had had to deal with racism, sexism and negative stereotypes.

Jenny Watson, EOC chair, said: "The good news is that the next generation of confident, ambitious young black and Asian women have a lot to contribute to their families, to local communities and to our economy.

"The bad news is that not enough employers are tapping into this pool of talent – despite demographic predictions that suggest Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean and Pakistani women will make up, in some areas, a significant proportion of the workforce of the future. And many of these young women are telling us they have to deal with racism, sexism and negative stereotypes," she added.

"It's not only employers who miss out – we all do when young women's ambitions are dashed and we fail to build cohesive communities. More must be done before another generation of promising young women fall prey to the same negative cycle of poor pay, poor prospects, and occupational segregation," she concluded.

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