The Independent newspaper has today run a clip from the European Parliament showing UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew saying:
“Women don’t have the ambition to get to the top because babies get in the way”
The implication of this is that another UKIP MEP has put his foot in it with some deplorable sexism. True, but he commits an equally awful blunder that needs to be picked up on.
His belief in a meritocratic society – a disproportionately right wing belief – leads him into an idiotic comment at the end of clip. He says, “those females who really want to get to the top, do so”.
Really? Does he honestly believe that any women who “wants to get to the top” – can do so? That nothing stands in your way other than your own work rate and inherent ability?
This belief in such a flagrant falsehood – that Britain is a meritocracy – is almost, if not as damaging as his unpalatable casual sexism.
I wonder if he could explain all of the following through “unmotivated women” and babies.
- A gender pay gap of around 10% difference
- Approximately 70% of people in national minimum wage jobs are women.
- Women making up only 17% board directors of FTSE 100 companies.
- Up to 30,000 women being sacked each year simply for being pregnant.
- 14% of white British women have being asked about their plans for marriage and/or children at a job interview compared to 20-25% of Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women.
- A 24 year high for women’s unemployment – highest amongst black and minority ethnic women.
- Only 1 in 4 MPs being female and women from minority ethnic groups making up only 1.2% of MP.
- Just 23% of reporters on national daily newspapers in the UK being women.
- A 4:1 male to female ratio for experts appearing in our media.
Discrimination is a blight that Old Blighty is having to deal with. To tackle this we have to show that those who peddle the myth of a meritocracy are simply, if sadly, wrong.