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A galling attempt to blame women themselves for not having the top jobs

Annie Peate

29 May 2012

Fewer than a third of the UK's most influential jobs are held by women, figures compiled by BBC News demonstrate today.
Disappointing indeed but sadly, not a new story. Although women's representation is improving, as this latest data shows, progress is still far too slow and completely stagnant in some areas.

But perhaps even more depressing than these all too familiar statistics is the attitude of Emer Timmons, the 43-year-old president of BT Global Services UK. She asserts that, “There is nothing to stop you from being whoever or whatever you want to be. The only thing stopping you is you." Whilst she may have found this to be the case, it certainly does not reflect the experience of the majority. Government cuts to benefits and services, rising costs of childcare and persisting unequal pay makes even low responsibility, part-time work impossible for some. For many with children, work simply doesn't pay. The prospect of entering a 'top job' isn't even a possibility.

Blaming women themselves isn’t going to change the statistics. As the BBC story points out, there is growing evidence that women in senior positions are good for business, and there are those who question why Rwanda, Afghanistan and Iraq far outshine the UK for women in positions of political power.

Timmons is right about one thing. Women can achieve what they want. But only if they are adequately supported and the realities of their differing situations are incorporated into government policy and the workplace.