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Discrimination for job-seeking ethnic women

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Women from ethnic backgrounds are less likely to find jobs than white women.

The Runnymede Trust report for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community claims that women from ethnic minorities face a high level of discrimination when searching for jobs.

It is thought that the 2011 unemployment rate for women from ethnic minorities stood at 14.3 per cent.

Of this unemployment rate a massive 20.5 per cent concerned Pakistani or Bangladeshi women, while 17.7 per cent was made up by Black women.

Unemployment affected 6.8 per cent of white women which is a considerable difference.

The report claimed that “this gap has remained constant for Black women since the 1980s, and has actually worsened for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women since 2004.”

This research clearly highlights the problem is getting worse, rather than better.

The report, for which numerous interviews with women from varying ethnic backgrounds were conducted, found that some women had changed their names to sound more ‘English’ in order to pass through the recruitment process.

They said that while this helped initially, once they were invited for a job interview ‘prejudice’ by employers was evident.

Some Muslim women claimed that they even removed their hijabs for interviews.

Others said they were questioned on their views of marriage and children, as their cultural traditions suggested that they were more family orientated and this could impact their job.

The report also added: “Other issues identified as barriers to employment include language issues, cultural attitudes towards women, qualifications and lack of social capital.”

Speaking on the report, MPs said: “We believe that evidence shows that there are varied and complex barriers facing Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women which are different from those facing white women or ethnic minority men.”

“Based on this, we would argue that the government’s ‘colour-blind’ approach to tackling unemployment is not appropriate in dealing with the specific issues facing women from these groups.”

Labour MP David Lammy, chairman of the committee which filed the report, said: “There have been a lot of cuts to the public sector. Black and minority ethnic women have been traditionally employed in the public sector and are losing their jobs in droves at this time.

“They complain of struggling with no support around child care and around helping them to stay in work.

“Many are doing just casual employment, so the picture is bleak and depressing.”

Vivienne Hayes, of the Women’s Resource Centre, said: “Discrimination in the workplace against black and ethnic minority women can be subtle or it can be explicit, either way we know for a fact it exists and it affects the opportunities those women get and the power they hold in society.”

Young Foundation’s Zamila Bunglawala, said: “If there are no policy interventions then we anticipate that the high level of unemployment among Pakistani and Bangladeshi women will just continue.

“That is not the society that we want in the UK, that is not an inclusive society, it’s not making the best of our young people and it makes a mockery of our education system.

“What is the point in going to university if you cannot get a job at the end of it and you cannot give back to society?” she asked.

  1. Patricia Richardson says:

    What can the etnic women do against this phenomenon. In the Netherlands the figures are about the same. Why is discrimination on the workplace not a priority of gouverment?

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