Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment

Women still hold less than ten per cent of the most senior positions in

many areas of British public life, according to a report published today

by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).* Julie Mellor, chair of the

EOC, said the findings raised serious questions about the ability of the

decision makers who run Britain to identify with the concerns of the

general public.

Sex and power: who runs Britain? reveals that women make up just 7% of

the senior judiciary, 7% of senior police officers, 9% of top business

leaders and 9% of national newspaper editors. There has been progress in

some areas - for example, women now account for 23% of the civil service

top management and 36% of public appointments - but there is still a

long way to go.

Ms Mellor said:

'Almost 30 years since the Sex Discrimination Act was passed, women are

still massively under-represented in positions of influence in Britain.

No-one can argue any more that it's just a matter of time until more

women make it to the top - there have been talented women coming up in

business, public life and politics for years. The EOC is laying down a

challenge to leaders in every sector to make 2004 the year they take

decisive action to dismantle the barriers to women's progress.

'Women are still often prevented from getting to the top because they

take on more caring responsibilities than men. Until every organisation

accepts that they can't capitalise on the talent available without

taking account of people's caring roles the profile of the people who

run Britain will not change. Institutions also need to examine their

recruitment and selection procedures to check that they are rigorous,

fair and transparent. There's no place for an old boys' network in

modern Britain.

'Excluding women from senior positions means that business, government

and public services are not only missing out on talent, they are als o

relying on a narrow range of experiences to make decisions that affect

all of our lives. The quality of decision-making suffers without the

input of people with a range of experiences.

'Recent media commentary on the honours system has also highlighted the

low numbers of women to receive 'senior' honours. This reflects a wider

problem that won't be resolved until Britain's leaders act to make sure

women are not prevented from getting to the top.'


1. Sex and power: who runs Britain? is available here.

2. The Sex Discrimination Act came into force in December 1975.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.