Published by: Olivia Brown
22nd January 2014
UKIP leader Nigel Farage hit headlines earlier this week by claiming that ‘women must sacrifice family life to succeed in finance‘. Farage, who worked in finance before politics argued that discrimination against women was a thing of the past in financial institutions and suggested gender imbalances are caused by female employees making ‘different choices’ for ‘biological reasons’. He stated that women lose business by taking nine months to a year out of work, as they are no longer able to work closely with their clients, and are therefore less valuable to their employers when they return. He continued, saying ‘I think the reality for women in the City is that if they have children it has a very detrimental effect on their future pay prospects.’ When asked whether this was fair, Farage said: ‘I can’t change biology.’ The comments sparked outrage amongst many, including Maternity Action and deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, who claimed that Farage’s stance was ‘absolutely rubbish’. The Guardian quoted Kirsty Ayre, a partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, who said that the notion that women are ‘somehow intrinsically worth less to financial institutions as a result of having families is laughable‘.
In a world where boardrooms are severely lacking women, the gender pay gap has still not narrowed and yet working mothers effectively balance their work and personal lives, it is clear that Nigel Farage has been out of the City too long and his ideas are decades out of date. The numerous initiatives and schemes that provide women with support, such as job-shares and the increase of paternity leave, seem to have slipped under Farage’s radar as he insists that ‘young, able women who are prepared to sacrifice the family life and stick with their careers do as well, if not better, than men.’
As Rosalind Bragg, director of Maternity Action, said, ‘we need practical support for new mothers at work, not more criticism’.
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