What Women Really Want…

It is time for a change in the way we discuss women’s issues. Feminism has been hijacked by doctrinaire zealots and abstruse academic fashions; the result is irrelevance at best, at worst outright harm. Our new research and advocacy centre is rooted in the political and cultural mainstream, steering clear of cant and dogma. It provides the missing piece in our discussion of work, life, family and neighbourhood. This report, our first, is a manifesto for change, highlighting how women’s ambitions are frustrated by an economy, employment law, and tax and benefits system designed without women in mind—and with results that harm our country’s future.

The UK has witnessed some striking progress among women over the past 13 years: the gender pay gap has shrunk to 7.7% for fulltime workers (and for part time workers it has reversed: women earn 3.3% more than men). Women run more of the country’s small and medium enterprises (19%), more women than ever (39.6%) hold FTSE directorships and a larger proportion of women (27%) than men (26%) is employed in a “professional occupation”, as engineers, doctors, accountants, lawyers etc.

Governments have come to recognize that women’s participation in the workforce benefits the rest of us, and not only by boosting GDP. Women invest more of their income in their families and communities than men, leading to better education and health outcomes. Companies with gender-diverse leadership teams are more successful.

These trends highlight the contribution women make to the UK economy – investing in this half of the population will bring significant benefits and should be a priority for the next Budget.

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