On Monday (29 December) two pieces of legislation come into force in the United Kingdom whose effect will be to revolutionise the relationship between the country's nine million or so women workers, the men they work with and the people they work for.
CU Newspapers and classified advertisement column (2 shots)
SV Family in street
SV Woman carrying shopping bags.
SV Woman putting push chair into car
SV Woman carrying shopping and pushing child in push chair.
SV INTERIOR Woman cashier working at bank counter
SV Woman street cleaner pulling hand cart, talking to colleagues, picking up rubbist loading cart and moving off (3 shots)
CU Woman driving double decker bus (2 shots)
GV Bus along street
Initials CL/1945 MF/AW/BB/2200
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: On Monday (29 December) two pieces of legislation come into force in the United Kingdom whose effect will be to revolutionise the relationship between the country's nine million or so women workers, the men they work with and the people they work for.
They are the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act. They are designed to equalise women's rights with those of their male counterparts and colleagues in such areas as salaries and wages, holiday entitlements, training schemes, promotion, university courses, mortgages, rent and credit facilities.
In theory the new laws mean that anyone who advertises for a waitress in Britain next year will be committing an offence -- sexism. And sexism means making an unfair or unjustifiable distinction between two or more people merely because of gender. The advertisement should read "wait person".
In practice it seems likely that many people will take advantage of the loose drafting of the Acts to circumvent them. For example a restaurant owner determined to hire a woman may be able to advertise for a "voluptuous bartender" -- which sounds sexist enough but may still be within the law if it can be proved that voluptuousness is a genuine occupational qualification.
Monitoring the new legislation, to make sure employers are not making use of such loopholes, will be an Equal Opportunities Commission (E.O.C.), which can itself investigate an alleged offence or recommend that an Industrial Tribunal judge the case.
The Commission's first chairman -- she insist that her title is not Chairwoman -- is Betty Lockwood, a former National Woman's Officer of the Labour Party. She says the new laws "will enable women to be sea captains, airline pilots and deep sea drivers -- if they come forward themselves".
But since professional women generally already have pay parity with their male colleagues, more significant than this glamorous dream is the Commission's aim to stop other women languishing on the factory floor in a low-paid job at the bottom of the grade structure.
Recent government figures showed that while Britain's average male worker earned more than GBP3,000 sterling (6,000 US dollars) a year, women's average annual earnings were just short of GBP1,950 (3,900 US dollar).
SYNOPSIS: In the United Kingdom advertising in a newspaper for a waitress will be illegal after Monday when two new laws come into force. They are the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act, whose effect will revolutionise the relationship between men and women workers.
An advertisement could say "wait-person" and avoid the crime of sexism -- but it will probably be some time before Britain's women abandon their traditional roles. In practice it also seems likely that employers may take advantage of the loose wording of the Acts to specify the gender they prefer.
Generally professional women like doctors, journalists and bank clerks already have pay parity with their male colleagues -- but the Acts will help women in lower-paid jobs.
Some progress towards equality in other spheres has also taken place. Lady street cleaners, for example, are quite a common sight in London these days. After Monday, however, opportunities for promotion will be equalised as will women's right in such areas as holiday entitlements, training schemes, university courses, mortgages, rent and credit facilities.
An Equal Opportunities Commission will monitor the new legislation to make sure that employers are not making use of loopholes.
Old jokes about women drivers still get told ....and although it's still rare to see women in charge of double-decker buses this lady's situation is an indicator of how much attitudes have changed in recent times.