Lancaster expert presents evidence to MPs on equality at work ahead of International Women’s Day

A photograph of Professor Val Stead smiling and looking into the camera
Professor Val Stead

An academic from Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) presented evidence to Members of Parliament in Westminster last week, focusing on modernising employment practises in the UK.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day (8 March 2024), one of Lancaster’s leading gender scholars took part in an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) - a forum for Parliamentarians from different political parties to collaborate, share information, and raise awareness about a particular subject – dedicated to ‘Modernising Employment’ and providing a level playing field for everyone.

Led by a panel of Ministers including Dame Maria Miller MP and Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Commission, the packed-out session discussed a host of recommendations for reform in working practices.

photo of the crowded room as the APPG took place

The APPG taking place (credit: Reed Screening)

LUMS’ Professor Valerie Stead contributed to the panel by offering research evidence from LUMS’ own Academy for Gender, Work and Leadership, Gender Matters and TARGETED-MPI projects to show how inequalities in the UK labour market between men and women persist across participation, insecurity and pay.

Professor Stead said: “The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to present our research directly to ministers who can bring about impactful change.

“I was able to share evidence to demonstrate how underrepresented women are in senior and influential roles, and how they face being locked out of progression due to entrenched gender stereotypes and a narrowing pipeline. Women continue to carry the burden of unpaid care and, sadly, face disadvantage throughout their working lives.”

Attendees – including leaders from more than 100 businesses - heard that the difficult UK economic climate and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have slowed progress in closing gender gaps. Employers lose out on a huge talent pool and women pay the cost with reduced incomes that have consequences into retirement, with a pension savings gap for women that would equate to an additional 19 years of work.

Discussions also focused on how to make hiring in the UK the fastest in the world; how opportunities could be improved for everyone in the UK labour market through fully inclusive hiring processes; how technology could help reduce barriers to hiring and how to make UK labour market regulation the smartest globally.

Outputs from the APPG will contribute to a Better Hiring Charter and a National Framework.

The APPG was supported by the Better Hiring Institute (BHI) and attended by Keith Rosser who is Director of the Better Hiring Institute and Reed Screening, alongside being Secretariat Officer for the APPG, and an Honorary Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University Management School.

Engaging with policy makers is a priority for academics at Lancaster, who regularly engage with ministers and policy makers as a way of using their research as a force for good; offering new thinking and evidence that can drive positive change at local, national or international levels.

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