Our Work

The Women’s Policy Centre addresses the barriers to women’s progress through five key programmes

We highlight the cultural, economic and social factors, visible and invisible, that promote and hamper women’s progress.

These include:

Fertility is declining worldwide and with particularly acute effects in Europe. Though the global fertility rate is 2.3 (children per woman), in the UK it is 1.75. This risks economic decline, with an increasing elderly population depending on a shrinking working-age population, undermining pensions, public services, and the social fabric.

Flexible schedules allow them to combine work and family responsibilities. But too few employers in the mainstream labour market are willing to accommodate women’s needs, driving them to the gig economy where the price of flexibility is insecurity, low incomes and low status.

Across the UK, men have saved £1.65 trillion more than women. This alarming difference is in part caused by women interrupting their jobs to have children, which affects their ability to build up a pension, but it is also driven by widely different patterns in investment, whereby men are far more likely to invest in shares, to use their maximum pension allowances, to take advantage of other tax-free savings schemes and to enjoy the untaxed capital gains of a primary residence. How can we encourage women to invest more strategically?

Most women are shocked to learn that they could be leaving on the table between $1 million and $1.5 million in lost earnings over their lifetime by not negotiating their first salary. Progress in the workplace is about self-promotion as much as merit. How can employers encourage women to raise their ambitions? Transparent salary bands, mid-career MOTs, equal opportunities for informal networking: are these key to women’s advancement?

How often are women misdiagnosed? Until 1986, when the National Institute of Health in the US introduced a policy to include female participants in medical trials, diagnosis would be based on data that was predominantly male-specific. Even today, by not differentiating the symptoms experienced and the reactions to therapies or medicines, researchers may be contributing to a dangerous data gap. How can we counter this debilitating approach to women’s health?

Women have committed, in general, more time to volunteering and engagement in their community than their male counterparts. Mutual aid groups create new networks and fuel new knowledge, making an invaluable contribution to public life. Yet bureaucracy, lack of social rewards, and failure by local and central government to support these initiatives have hindered their flourishing. Stoking community life can rebuild trust in our increasingly fractured society, and supporting women in this role is crucial.

The narrative of “dead-beat dads” defines the fathers who don’t/won’t pay child maintenance. But our institutions – from the NHS to schools – have too often side-lined fathers and erased fatherhood from child-birth and child-raising. The result contributes to some fathers’ abrogation of responsibility, and two million children in the UK have little or no relationship with their fathers. This places an overwhelming burden on mothers – until we restore fathers to their rightful role.

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