The Reward of Women in Work

During this election period, we’re hearing a lot of YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY SOOOO MUCH TAX IF YOU WANT THAT or YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR THAT YOURSELF.

But what if there was another way. What if there was something positive that we could be doing to increase the coffers. A good news story. But not just a good news story. A positive action that improves the happiness of a whole section of society whilst boosting the economy and increasing earnings eligible for income tax.

Interested. Then I’ll tell you.

A recent PWC survey saw that there are 427,000 women on a career break who want to return to the workplace. They are doctors, lawyers, researchers. Highly qualified women.

That same survey found that 3 in 5 women who manage to return to the workplace will come back into a lower skilled or lower paid position. Why? They gave birth to a baby – not their brain.

If we were to address this and put these women back into the positions that they want to go back to then there could be an extra £1.1 billion pounds in wages for the tax man to go at.

In addition, there could be an extra £1.7 billion pounds in our economy – that is their worth to our GDP.

These numbers have factored in the childcare and everything else before you say it! The folks at PWC are super clever like that. These numbers are also just about addressing the current gaping hole that mothers face in their careers when they give birth.

The potential for growth is huge…

…because there is also a gender pay gap which is also fuelled by women putting their careers on hold to become mothers. If this were fully addressed then there could be an extra £82.5 billion being paid in wages for the tax man to go at. Hello! That’s a lot of hospitals. And old people homes. Because we’re going to need them. Our populations are changing – we’re having fewer children and living longer. Old people’s homes are where it’s at.

You would think that figures like this would warrant a whole chapter in a manifesto. The cost of childcare might seem a bit overwhelming but when you see the benefits to GDP then surely, as a politician, it’s a no-brainer. Get these willing highly qualified people back into work!! More women bosses will result in more women across the whole business and the pay gap will go. No man is going to pay the women less when a big scary woman is watching!


The talk is of childcare and providing 30 hours for kids from the age of 2 but the 15 hours has never been funded properly so what hope is there that 30 hours will be. The nurseries and childcare providers I work with tell me that there is no extra money. They’ve had a pay cut. What a magnificent way to motivate a workforce! A largely female one. Hello gender wage gap. The paradox continues.

We need to do more than talk about childcare, as important as that is. We need to say IT’S OK IF YOU WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK but we also need to say LADIES, WE VALUE YOU – YOU ARE AMAZEBALLS AND WE’D LOVE TO SEE YOU AT YOUR DESK DOING YOUR THING IF YOU WANT TO BE THERE. We also need to say to men YOU CAN LOOK AFTER YOUR KIDS AND STILL BE A MAN. REAL MEN LOOK AFTER THEIR KIDS. I’m shouting at men a bit there. Sorry men. Actually no, I’m not sorry. I’m grabbing you and shaking you and saying I know you want to be there for your babies so do it! It’s awesome. Don’t miss out.

Businesses have woken up to the fact that women represent an untapped source of talent and potential profit, and they’re on it. Some of them anyway. There is clear evidence that having women on the Board means a company is more profitable. The number of women being recruited to Boards is on the up. Money is the motivator, but perhaps there will be some amazing benefits to society as a by-product.

It needs to happen, and soon, and it’s going to bite these politicians in the arse if they don’t jump on the bandwagon of these progressive companies and do more to support these incredible women back into the workplace.

Those lower skilled and lower paid jobs that 3 in 5 professional women return to following a career break – they’re disappearing fast.

I came across some data from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills predicting the UK labour market over a 10 year period. What it showed quite clearly was that the segments of the labour market that these two sets of women often end up in are set to decline over the next 10 years. These two segments were the only two segments to be female dominated – the trend suggests that ‘girl jobs’ are going.

This makes it even more important, urgent in fact, that we find a way to keep those professional women in the professional sphere. But more so, maybe it’s time to get rid of girl jobs and boy jobs and just have jobs – can I suggest we start with the job of parenting.

To put these numbers back into the perspective of the election, the Conservatives plan to increase spending on the NHS by £8 billion and Labour by £30 billion over the 5-year term. If we could wave a magic wand and solve the gender pay gap and career break issue overnight the tax man has £84.2 billion of wages to go at.  Just 20% of that is £16.8 billion. At the other end, 40% is £33.68.

If we can give our professional women a better choice when they become mothers then the benefits are profound, not just to the woman but to society as a whole. Indeed investing in women could make a huge difference. That’s how it should be seen – an investment – because the numbers clearly indicate a return on that investment. Quite frankly you could vote Labour, prop up the NHS and give out Peppa Pig plasters with these figures. And Peppa Pig. They are amazeballs.

Because women are just that – amazeballs. And worth their weight in gold. Or sterling. Or whatever currency you’re currently using.

I am one of these professional women.  Here’s my challenge to politicians everywhere. Genuinely help me to support my family and I’ll help you to support society. I’m already doing my bit…….

You can read the full data from PWC here. I’ve used currency exchange rates from the 19th May 2017.

If you enjoyed this blog you may also enjoy

Parent Power – A summary of what the Political Parties will do for schools (actual facts, not just made up stuff!)

Dear Little Ones – Could Peppa Pig help fight Election Fatigue?

Imposter Syndrome

BBC Gender Pay Gap – Are they villains?

Homework is Sexist

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SARAH CANTRILL is a woman on a mission to inspire every young child to become a reader for pleasure.  She is the Artistic Director & Founder of STORY STORKS, a social enterprise that delivers interactive story workshops to early years children and their grown ups, that help kids to fall in love with stories and develop their early language skills meaning that they have an easier time of learning to read when the time is right. She is also passionate about helping and supporting parents through the early years and lobbying for a better understanding of them and the issues they present.  Occasionally she also speaks up for the kids too!



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