More women could get top jobs—if they wanted to
Works managers interviewed for the Donovan Report numbered 318 men and one woman. Of 121 personnel officers interviewed 10 were women. Out of the 183 officials of six trade unions, one was a woman. Of all the managers, only five per cent. were women; and of qualified scientists and engineers still fewer—2.5 per cent. were women.
Those were “startling and deplorable figures,” Mr. C. M. Woodhouse, director of education, CBI, said in London yesterday.
Mr. Woodhouse acted as chairman to a joint College of Management-Guardian Business Services conference on women in business. He added that his task at the CBI was to do all he could to put this imbalance right. This was simply in the interest of the national economy, and had nothing to do with feminist doctrinaires.
But although it had been accepted as desirable in theory that more women should occupy posts at higher levels, they “must want to get there themselves—which is not always the case.” Mr. Woodhouse then cited the example of some female scientists who had made it a condition of employment not ever to be promoted to higher ranks.
Mrs. Margaret Thatcher. Conservative MP, and a chemist as well as barrister, suggested that the really talented among women would always make their own niche—except in the Stock Exchange.
Of the 9m. women in employment only a relatively small proportion was available for top jobs, anyway. Married women had to carry two responsibilities—and there was no-one to whom to pass the buck. No man was in this same position.
But also, for too many girls “O” levels were the pinnacle of attainment. Only 3.2 per cent. went to university. Many of the rest simply did not want to go. Thus girls' attitudes towards careers were conditioned from the outset, and this was influencing the types of jobs available in quantity for them.
However, to have learnt something was an asset and insurance for anyone; marriage might increase responsibilities, this was not something one could always pass on to someone else.
And, said Mrs. Thatcher, there were careers which could be mixed with marriage and children, like law or teaching, whose demands fitted in with school holidays, apart from those careers—nursing, welfare—which were thought suitable for women anyway, and where opportunities existed.
But women were not now being selected in their early years to be trained for top management jobs. Employers were “reserving their judgment,” thinking that a young woman would probably get married first.
Mrs. Thatcher thought that women were, however, accepted as being very good at a “speciality,” for instance, as crime or divorce lawyers, where human factors were involved. But, for all that, at the bar women still often did not get the business while men were available.
It took qualifications, experience and a good deal of personality to get to the top, and women were often unable to get the experience.
Mr. Harry Roff, managing director of Management Selection, in turn, declared that women should not be barred from top jobs, but on the other hand there was no earthly reason why such jobs should be there for them.
Women had to become much lazier—at present they always wanted to prove that they could do things. They were too conscientious: they won't take a slight chance. And women were too loyal.
“If companies are not worthy of your loyalty, don't give it to them. They should motivate you.” If women were to abide by these three rules they would be moving some ways towards making good managers.
In industry one had to fight for what one wanted— “there is a lot of pulling away of the mat” —and women did not like to do this MSL. dealing with jobs from £3,000 upwards, only came across one job a year where a woman was wanted. (Men outnumbered women two-to-one in the total work force, but at salary ranges of between £2,000 and £3,000 there were 20 men to one woman over £3,000 there were 30 men to one woman over £5,000 50 men to one woman.)
Mrs. Joyce Butler, MP, concerned about the majority of women working in “bottom” jobs, said that low wages were paid simply because at the crucial moment, when the girls were leaving school, they were not encouraged to be trained for a career.
Nor were training facilities the same as they were for boys. Even in medicine women were restricted.
Special facilities were needed at later stages. Also there should be an anti-discrimination Board. As for equal pay, Mrs. Butler said, women were finding life just as expensive as men, and 12 per cent. of all employed women were responsible for their households anyway. “Male bachelors are not paid less.”