Wandsworth’s only female cabinet member insists long way to go in battle for equality


Councillor for Education and Children’s Services, Kathy Tracey, said things are changing, but too slowly.


By Emma Birkett

Wandsworth’s only female cabinet member said today that there was ‘absolutely no justification’ for gender pay inequality in the modern workplace.

Speaking on International Women’s day, the Councillor for Education and Children’s Services, Kathy Tracey, said that in the battle for equal pay, things were changing, but too slowly.

A recent survey carried out by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Hecsu) highlighted the continuing imbalance of wages between male and female graduates across the country. The results have reignited the debate on sexism and equal opportunities in the workplace, and the continued dominance of some sexes in specific industries such as engineering and construction.

Councillor Tracey said that despite being the only female in the cabinet, the ratio of women entering politics has improved in the last 20 years, and that there are now some extremely capable women in the council.

“It’s interesting that some European countries that have managed to narrow the gender pay gap are the ones who have governments made up of a proportionate amount of women,” she added.

One such example is Iceland, which tops the global list for pay parity, and which has a female Prime Minister and three female cabinet ministers out of seven.

Pauline Myers, chairman of the Townswomen Guild, a leading national women’s group, believes that girls and young women are lacking in positive high-profile role models, and tend to idolise models or celebrities as opposed to female industry leaders or businesswomen.

“We need more excellent women pushing forward,” she said.

“They need to stand up for their rights and not just sit back in the workplace.”

Councillor Tracey agreed that a more visible female presence would definitely go some way to improving the statistics.

“Instilling confidence in women at an early age is key. Things such as debating clubs in schools would equip women with the tools needed to take on the more male dominated industries,” she added. 

Photo courtesy of Madison Guy, with thanks. 

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