“Advancing Women” by… Not Employing Us

Bafflingly, that seems to be the position of Sylvia Tidy-Harris, who you may have seen on the programme Kate appeared on and talked about in her post yesterday.

I took part in a debate with Tidy-Harris on BBC Radio London yesterday (scroll to an hour and just under three minutes into the programe), who says she doesn’t employ women of child-bearing age and yet is also described in her biog on the Womenspeakers site, as “passionate” about the advancement of women in business. I think it’s a shame that passion does not seem to extend beyond those women who can afford to take the financial risk of starting their own businesses. Clearly any women of “childbearing age” who are looking for employment have zero chance of any such advancement in her business, seeing as they won’t even get a look-in.

Somewhat confused by Tidy-Harris’s position, I looked her up to find out more and, to be fair, she has said, in a past article, that the government needs to “wake up to the fact that it should fully compensate firms with fewer than 10 employees for the cost of maternity leave.” The trouble is that, in the meantime, she seems to think employers steering clear of a large number of women just because they’ve concluded those women probably have the equipment to bear children is acceptable. (And, of course, not all women of “child-bearing age” can actually have children anyway so not only is Tidy-Harris seemingly okay with penalising women purely because of a perceived and possible ability to have children but she is also being completely unfair to women for whom that is not a possibility.)

She also said it’s women who have “caused the problem.” Well, yes I suppose it is insomuch as being able to get pregnant and give birth is the cause but the problem is the prejudice and discrimination that all too many people harbour in response to that reality. As Kate said here yesterday, it’s actually sexism and misogyny holding women back and to suggest its a case of “women” being the problem is nothing more than a plain example of that.

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