Friday, June 05, 2009

Overcoming gender discrimination in the rag trade

Recent reports indicate hundreds of thousands of women working in fashion in the UK are being paid less than their male colleagues. Females have been passed over for top jobs and are activel prevented from taking what are considered "male" roles. Now a group of the UKs biggest fashion companies are working to stamp out this gender-based discrimination. For decades, the shoemaker Church & Co, (owned by Prada of Italy) whose classic footwear is favoured by such people as Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, has alledgedly divided the workforce at its Northampton factory into men and women, with women prevented from taking what were thought of as "men's roles", and forced to work at different jobs in a separate part of the building. Church & Co is now working to correct this as part of the Women & Work initiative launched by Skillfast UK, the council for fashion and textiles, which is providing grants to women in fashion to help them learn new techniques. Fashion designers and equalities campaigners complain that, while women account for 52 per cent of the workforce in the fashion and textiles sector, they occupy just 37 per cent of the top jobs, and are paid 15 per cent less than their male colleagues. British women, on average, are paid 17.1 per cent less than their male colleagues, although this varies significantly from industry to industry. Recent research from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission last month revealed that women working in the financial sector earn, on average, a massive 55 per cent less then their male colleagues.

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