13 March 2002
Union women still face glass ceiling
As the annual TUC Women's conference starts in Eastbourne, a new survey carried out by Labour Research magazine reveals that women still face barriers getting into the top decision-making roles in trade unions.
Although two-fifths of TUC-affiliated members are women, only nine of the TUC's 69 affiliated unions (13%) have a woman in the top position. Most of these are tiny unions with fewer than 9,000 members, apart from the 18,000-strong Society of Radiographers (84% of whose members are women), where Ann Cattell is chief executive.
Labour Research has charted women's participation in the largest unions for many years and its latest survey shows some further, but patchy, growth in their representation at senior levels.
These include the unions' national executive committees and TUC delegations, where the majority of the top 10 unions now have women in proportions similar to that in their membership at large. There has also been some improvement in female representation among the ranks of full-time officials, although the proportions here trail behind the lay positions.
However, the survey reveals that none of the top 10 unions has a woman general secretary and only four have any women even at deputy/assistant general secretary level. These are the T&G general union (Margaret Prosser), Amicus (Lucy Anderson), the CWU communications union (Jeannie Drake) and the NASUWT teaching union (Christine Keates).
The TUC annual congress recognised this slow progress (and that of minority groups within the movement) last year when it amended its constitution to ensure unions were committed to change. This will be accompanied by a ?comprehensive TUC equality auditing process? to monitor and encourage progress.
Notes to editors
1 Further details of the survey are published in the March 2002 issue of Labour Research.
2 Labour Research is published by the Labour Research Department, an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 90 years ago. More than 1,800 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions representing 99% of total TUC membership, are affiliated.
3 Labour Research Department press releases are also available on the LRD website at www.lrd.org.uk
4 For further information contact Clare Ruhemann on 0207 902 9824