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Issues too many women still face when job hunting

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Fawcett Society, Young Women's Trust, invisible women, women and work, APPG on Sex Equality, reportWe need to see what seem to be invisible women.

Over the course of 2016-2017, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sex Equality focussed its work on understanding what can be done by government to take a more effective approach to understanding the discrimination, inequality and exclusion that too many women in the UK continue to face – especially when it comes to accessing work.

Too often, women remain treated as a homogenous group by researchers and policymakers, with the assumption of a single female experience. However, this one size-fits all approach means there are, in effect, millions of invisible women, who are not being seen or heard by policymakers.

Factors such as race, faith, ethnicity, age, disability, sexuality, location and employment status can combine with gender to create distinct and particularly troubling experiences of discrimination and inequality – but this intersectionality is still largely being overlooked.

The APPG, supported by the Fawcett Society and Young Women’s Trust, organised four evidence sessions in Parliament from 2016-17, which form the basis of a report with the title ‘Invisible Women’.

These covered women who are not in education, employment or training (NEET), mental health and wellbeing, the experience of work and the collection and availability of intersectional data.

The report presents the key findings from those sessions.

In the report you will find:

A summary of how the lack of evidence on the inequality specific groups face frequently limits the public debate on women’s inequality, and recommendations for additional data that allows for comparisons between different groups of women;

The researchers’ findings on why the government must review policy and better consider the combined effects of multiple disadvantage, particularly related to gender pay gap reporting, apprenticeships, childcare, and the industrial strategy; and

Evidence about a lack of tailored support that is made available to people accessing public services, and recommendations, including greater efforts to involve beneficiaries in service design in order to make them more responsive to the needs and experiences of diverse groups.

The report also proposes a way forward to address gender inequality in a more sophisticated way, which requires policymakers to have access to better data, review policies to ensure they meet the needs of all women and work with a diverse range of women when developing policies and designing services.

And it has recommended that:

1) We need data to see her:

To fully understand the experiences of “invisible women” we need additional data that allows for comparisons between different groups of women.

This could be achieved by better linkages between datasets and data sharing between public services.

The government should resource the creation of intersectional pay gap data as a priority.

But existing data should also be analysed and published in a way that allows for better understanding of the experiences of distinct groups of women.

2) We need policy to see her:

The government should evaluate and review existing legislation and policy to ensure it takes a joined up view of the interaction between gender and other protected characteristics.

In particular, the APPG draws attention to the need for a more intersectional approach to closing the gender pay gap, apprenticeship recruitment, childcare provision, and industrial strategy.

3) We need the law to see her:

Make it possible to bring a discrimination claim based on an individual’s true identity, by reviewing and then implementing Section 14 of the Equality Act 2010.

4) We need services to see her:

Many public services do not reflect the needs and experiences of intended service users. This risks excluding women with multiple characteristics from much-needed support.

This could be overcome by more sensitive public service design.

The APPG advocates greater efforts to involve beneficiaries in service design in order to make them more responsive to the needs and experiences of diverse groups.

In particular, the APPG urges work to improve mental health and employment services.

To read the full report, click here.

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