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Nouvelles valeurs dans l’Angleterre d’aujourd’hui

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Monica Charlot

The influence of European sex equality law on the UK legislation: a challenge to the “male norm”?

Simonetta Manfredi

Texte intégral

  • 1 Paul Davis, “European Equality Legislation, UK Legislative Policies and Industrial Relations” in Mc (...)
  • 2 Ibid. p. 36.

1It has been argued that some of the main provisions of the EU sex equality law, namely the Equal Treatment and the Equal Pay Directives, have hardly had any influence on the decision to introduce legislation in the UK, aimed at eliminating discrimination based on sex with regard to pay, access to jobs, training and working conditions. The Equal Pay Act (1970) and the Sex Discrimination Act (1975), which represent the two main pillars of equality legislation in the UK, were both introduced prior to the EU Directives and, as suggested by Davies1, the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act were brought about by domestic pressures for equality legislation from several quarters; the Women’s movement, private member’s bills in the 1970s, and a promise for legislation to guarantee equal rights for men and women that by February 1974 all major political parties had included in their election manifestoes. Furthermore, according to Davies: “It is also necessary to point out to an important ingredient in the British debate, which appears to have had no parallel at the EEC level, namely the links between the legislation on sex discrimination and that on race discrimination”2. Pressure to legislate on race discrimination stems from historical circumstances, which caused increases in the size of ethnic minority community. In post-war years of labour shortage large numbers of black migrant workers were recruited from British colonies and Commonwealth countries. The Sex Discrimination Act became a model for the Race Relations Act and Davies argues that the main foreign influences were from the US. He asserts that the content of the Sex Discrimination Act was deeply influenced by US anti discrimination legislation and jurisprudence, in particular with regard to the adoption in the Act of the concept of “indirect discrimination”, which was informed by legal principles and views expressed by the US Supreme Court.

2However, if EU equality law hardly played any part in the mind of the British legislator at the time when the domestic equality legislation was drawn up, it is argued in this chapter that subsequently, in the 1980s and 1990s, EU law played a major role in the way the UK sex equality legislation developed. Through a critical assessment of the interaction between the main provisions of the UK equality law and the European Directives, designed to promote equality between men and women at work, this chapter attempts to define to what extent EU sex equality legislation has affected cultural norms and values relating to the role of women in British society.

3It starts by reflecting on post-war social views about the role of women within the family and how these have set a cultural norm that has deeply affected women’s participation in the labour market throughout the century. It then looks at the Equal Pay Act (1970) and the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) regulations to consider how these have been modified in order to comply with the European Directives on Equal Pay (75/117EEC) and Equal Treatment (76/207/EEC). It discusses the implications of these changes for British women and the advantages that they have derived from them. The impact of EU legislation in support of working mothers is also investigated by looking at the implementation of the European Pregnant Worker Directive and of the Parental Leave Directive into domestic legislation.

4It also looks at the issue of women’s under-representation in decision-making positions including politics. In particular it considers whether the latest European legal developments on the use of positive discrimination have influenced the present UK Government by encouraging it to take a more “continental style interventionist approach” to tackle gender imbalances in decision making positions. It concludes by critically evaluating the challenges posed by the EU sex equality law to cultural norms and values, which have formed the basis of the UK equality law, and it argues that the EU law has contributed to transform the conception of women’s role in British society

Women’s role in post war Britain

  • 3 Jane Lewis, Women in Britain since 1945: Women, Family, Work and the State in the Post-War Years, O (...)
  • 4 Berger, B and Berger, P. L., The War is over the Family: Capturing the Middle Ground, London, Hutch (...)
  • 5 Sandra Fredman, Women and the Law, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1997, p. 127.

5One of the main concerns in British society at the end of the Second World War was the need to increase the birth rate and re-build the family, thus women’s main role for the foreseeable future was to “ensure the continuation of the British race”3. For this reason they were encouraged to become wives, mothers and to care for their children on a full-time basis. In particular the model of the bourgeois family was considered as “the necessary social context for the emergence of autonomous individuals who are the empirical foundation of political democracy”4. It is hardly surprising that within this ideological context women’s participation in the labour market was not encouraged and indeed those women who had been drawn into paid employment during the war years were urged to leave their jobs and return to their domestic role. Childcare support provided during the war years to help working mothers was withdrawn and the existing nurseries were closed. Nonetheless, due to a shortage of labour supply, it was not before too long that the British economy needed women back in the labour market as demonstrated by an appeal of the Ministry of Labour addressed to women in 1947, asking them “to re-enter industry if they were in a position to do so”5. However, women’s participation in economic activities could not take place at the expenses of their domestic and caring role. Thus, their possible engagement in paid employment was to be determined by the extent of their domestic responsibilities, which had to take priority, and part-time work seemed to be an appropriate compromise particularly in the absence of State funded provisions for childcare for children of pre-school age. Furthermore, the belief that a woman’s role was almost exclusively within the family and the assumption that a married woman, regardless of whether she had children or not, would be financially dépendent on her husband was at the basis of the construction of the welfare State:

  • 6 Ibid. p. 168.

The assumption that the husband should be the breadwinner and the wife the home-maker was given ideological legitimacy by Beveridge and continued to permeate the social security structure for most of the post war era6.

6Post war family policy set a cultural norm according to which British women were expected to lead their lives: to marry and take primary responsibility for their children. In spite of a number of important changes that took place in the following decades, which allowed women to increase their participation in the labour market, to gain wider access to education and to take more control over the reproduction process, post-war cultural norms and values continued to underline their lives throughout the century.

Tackling the Pay Gap between Men and Women

  • 7 Noreen Burrows, Jane Mair, European Social Law, Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, 1996, p. 33.
  • 8 Sandra Fredman, Women and the Law, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1997, p. 234.

7The principle of equal pay was adopted for the first time by a Conservative Government in 1955 but its application was limited to the public sector with a number of exclusions. The Labour Party expressed commitment to the principle of equal pay in its election manifesta in 1964 but failed to turn it into legislation until 1970. Eventually the Government was motivated to act by the combination of two main factors. The first was the domestic pressure from women that culminated in a strike at the car company Ford in its plant at Dagenham, when three hundreds women sewing machinists went on strike demanding that their jobs be re-evaluated and claiming equal pay to that of their male counterparts. The second factor was the personal commitment to equal pay of Barbara Castle, who was Secretary of State for Employment in the Labour Government at the time7. The Equal Pay Act was finally adopted by the British parliament in 1970 and employers were given a period of five years to comply with the law. This showed the Government’s anxiety to interfere as little as possible with the existing pay structures. Besides the new Act was rather limited in its scope as it only supported claims for equal pay for “like work or broadly similar”. Furthermore, the terms of comparison allowed by the law were rather limited as for the purposes of an equal pay claim a woman could only compare her work to that of “a man simultaneously employed by the same employer at the same establishment or at another establishment of the same employer at which common terms of employment were observed”8. To succeed in getting an equal pay claim upheld by an industrial tribunal was made even more difficult by the fact that the law had made available to employers a “justification defence”, which meant that they could argue that the pay difference was not based on sex but on others factors such as for example economic reasons.

  • 9 Catherine Hakim, “A Century of Change in Occupational Segregation 1891-1991”, Journal of Sociology,(...)

8Limiting the possibility of initiating an equal pay claim only in those cases where a woman could prove that she did the same job or a broadly similar one to that of her better paid male counterpart meant the law was not designed to tackle one of the most serious causes of pay discrimination which is occupational gender segregation9. As many academics have pointed out one of the causes of occupational gender segragation is women’s “dual role” as paid workers and as mothers, which leads them to seek employment in those “women friendly” occupations like, for example, education, health and clerical jobs, where patterns of work are compatible with their family responsabilities.

  • 10 Noreen Burrows, Jane Mair, European Social Law, Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, 1996 p. 33.
  • 11 Ibid. p. 33.
  • 12 (Case 61/81 EC Commission v UK (1982) ECR 2601). Enderby v. Frenchay Health Authority, C-127/92 (19 (...)

9The possibility of tackling pay discrimination more broadly was offered by the introduction of the concept of “equal pay for work of equal value” contained in the 1975 European Directive on Equal Pay. The notion of “equal value” was not included in the 1970 Equal Pay Act as its adoption had been expressly rejected by the Labour Government which dismissed it “as being too vague”10.The Government justified its choice at the time by stating that they intended to “eradicate discrimination in pay in specific identifiable situations by prescribing equally specific remedies”11.When the European Directive on Equal Pay came into force the UK failed to comply with its obligations to amend the domestic Equal Pay Act in order to introduce the principle of equal pay for work of equal value and other provisions contained in the Directive. The European Commission had to take infringement proceedings against the UK which in the end was forced by the European Court judgment to amend its legislation in order to comply with the Directive12.

  • 13 Enderby v. Frenchay Health Authority, C-127/92 (1993) IRLR 591 (ECJ).
  • 14 Sandra Fredman, Women and the Law, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1997, p. 252.

10The impact of the concept of “equal value” to tackle pay inequalities based on gender can be seen in the case of P. Enderby which has been an important test case in the UK. Mrs P. Enderby worked as a speech therapist for the NHS, a profession with a very high percentage of women employees. This was partly due to the fact that it was easier to find opportunities for part-time work that could be combined with family responsibilities, and partly due to the fact that the pay was rather low and unlikely to attract men. Mrs Enderby brought a claim for equal pay for work of equal value by comparing her job to the work of pharmacists and clinical psychologists, who were predominantly males and worked for the same establishment. The employer argued in his defence that the pay difference was due to the fact that separate committees had negotiated the level of pay for the different professions, and that the individual negotiating processes had not been gender biased. Furthermore, he stated that a higher rate of pay in the other professions was needed due to a shortage in the labour supply, in order to attract suitable employees. In other words the operation of “market forces” was invoked as a justification for the higher rate of pay for pharmacists and clinical psychologists13. The European Court of Justice, where the case was referred by the national Court, “declared that a pay disparity between two highly segregated jobs of equal value was sufficient to raise a prima facie case of sex discrimination”14. This was an important development as it shifted the burden of proof on to the employer to show that the pay differential was not based on sex. Furthermore, the ECJ did not accept as a valid defence the employer’s argument that the pay differential was due to the fact that separate committees had negotiated the remunration for the jobs in question. Nor did the Court accept the idea that the operation of “market forces” could be used as a blanket defence.

  • 15 Tamara Hervey, David O’Keeffe D., Sex Equality Law in the European Union, Chichester, Wiley, 1996 p (...)
  • 16 Evelyn Ellis, “Protection of Pregnancy and Maternity Rights”, Industrial Law Journal, vol. 22 (1), (...)

11The implications of the Enderby’s judgment are that “the difference in women’s average pay could no longer be accepted as inherent in the value of women’s work”15 as it is acknowledged that the existence of structural disadvantage, such as occupational gender segregation, needs to be taken into account in order to assess a claim for equal value. One can see how the conceptual tool of “equal value” is a much more powerful and far-reaching one than that of “the same or broadly similar job” provided by the UK Equal Pay Act (1970), prior to its amendments in 1982. The concept of “equal value” in fact has the potential to go beyond a formal concept of equality in favour of a more substantive approach that allows the employment tribunals to tackle discrimination at its roots. The Enderby’s case opened up the floodgate to a high number of equal value claims as it was estimated that its outcome would affect some 1,500 similar cases16.

12There is a limit, however, to how far the concept of “equal value” may be pushed. This is the requirement by the law that in an equal pay claim the comparison is only allowed between employees of different sexes working for the same employers. In other words, at present, the EU sex equality law does not allow cross-sector, or cross-employers comparisons. This represents a significant limit on how far one can go in trying to eradicate gender discrimination with regard to pay, which may be caused by occupational segregation.

  • 17 The Wages Councils had been rendered progressively more ineffectual since the mid-1980s by limiting (...)
  • 18 Barthu Phatel, Women and Low Income. Briefing by the Law Pay Unit. The Oxford Women s Studies Netwo (...)

13Another effective tool to reduce the wage gap between men and women in the UK has been the introduction of a minimum wage, as a result of the Labour Government signing up to the European Social Chapter in 1997. In 1993 the Conservative Government had abolished all the Wages Councils17 that provided statutory pay regulation. Many commentators noted how this had a particularly detrimental effect on women as a large number of them worked in low pay industries, which used to be regulated by the Wages Councils. In 1995 it was estimated that women accounted for 73% of those paid less than £ 4.00 per hour, although they were only 49.1% of those in employment. In addition, there were twice as many part-time employees among the low paid as a proportion of the workforce as a whole. Thus, it was argued that the introduction of a minimum wage would substantially raise the average pay of women relatively to men. When a national minimum wage was introduced, as part of the UK commitment to comply with the terms of the Social Chapter, it was estimated that it was likely to benefit 2 million of the lowest paid workers of whom 1.8 million were women working in sectors such as cleaning, caring, catering, hairdressing and retailing18.

Extending the application of the concept of equal treatment between men and women

14Another area where EU sex equality law had a significant influence over the development of UK equality law is that of equal treatment between men and women in the workplace. The prohibition to discriminate between men and women on the grounds of sex was introduced by the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) that made it illegal to discriminate both directly and indirectly on the grounds of sex in employment, as well as in education and provision of services. More specifically the Act States that:

15A person discriminates against a woman in any circumstances relevant for the purpose of this Act if:

  • on the ground of her sex he treats her less favorably than he treats or would treat a man or

  • he applies to her a requirement or condition which he applies or would apply to a man but -

which is such that the proportion of women who can comply with it is considerably smaller than the proportion of men who can comply with it, and

which he cannot show to be justifiable irrespective of the sex of the person to whom it is applied, and

which is to her detriment because she cannot comply with it.”

16The SDA provisions, however, did not have universal application as small businesses, partnerships of six or less partners and private households where excluded from its coverage and the Act did not apply to the Armed Forces either (Section 85 (4)). In order to comply with the broader protection against sex discrimination afforded by the EU Directive on Equal Treatment (76/207/EEC) between men and women, the UK SDA was repealed in 1986. Its coverage was extended to small businesses, partnership of six partners or less and to private households, with the exception of those cases where the employer can justify discrimination on the bases that the sex of the employee is a genuine occupational qualification. This might involve, for example, those jobs where someone of one sex is needed to preserve decency or privacy or where the work is concerned with one sex only, as in the case of certain jobs in hospitals or prisons. A provision was also introduced in the Act, which made it illegal for collective agreements to contain any clause which could go against the principle of equal treatment. At the same time the Act repealed provisions contained in early legislation concerning the protection of women employees in relation to hours of work or certain types of heavy jobs in factories, mines or quarries. As a result of this, by the end of 1986, the UK had removed any type of protective legislation aimed only at women as a group: a double-edged aspect of equality which nevertheless removed barriers to women’s participation in a range of occupations where their employment and prospects for advancement were previously restricted.

17However, in spite of these changes, a high proportion of women continued to be discriminated against, in the labour market, as many of them worked part-time and did not enjoy the same rights as full-time workers. The lack of employment rights for part-time workers re-enforced the assumption that women’s wages are secondary earnings as they are usually financially dependent on a husband or a partner. On the other hand, full-time employment rights and benefits were associated with full-time employment that represented the male norm.

  • 19 Equal Opportunities Commission and another v Secretary of State for Employment (1994) 1 All ER 910.

18The EU equality law has provided a useful framework to improve the status of part-time workers at a time when the domestic law afforded them very little protection. This can be clearly seen in the case brought before the House of Lords by the Equal Opportunities Commission at the beginning of the 1990s19 under the Employment Protection Consolidation Act (1978). According to this Act, part-time employees, defined as employees working between 8 and 16 hours a week, were required to have five years continual employment before being able to bring a claim for compensation for unfair dismissal and be eligible for statutory redundancy payments. For full-time employees, defined as those working not less than 16 hours a week, the qualifying period for entitlement to the same rights was two years. The EOC argued that having two different qualifying periods, one for the part-time, and one for the full-time employees, amounted to indirect discrimination considering the proportionally higher number of women working part-time. Furthermore, part-time employees working less than 8 hours a week could never qualify and that was contrary to the Equal Treatment Directive.

19In deciding this case, the House of Lords had to establish whether or not the different treatment of part-time and fulltime employees could be objectively justified. On behalf of the Government, the Secretary of State for Employment argued that the reason for having two different thresholds was to encourage the creation of more part-time work, by easing the employers’burden of possible claims for statutory redundancy payments or unfair dismissal. In other words the Government seemed to be supporting a culture of “hire and fire”, where employers could easily increase or reduce their workforce, at the expense of part-time workers.

  • 20 Case 70/84 Bilka Kaufhaus GmbH v Karin Weber Von Hartz (1986) ECR 1607, case C-171/88 Rinner-Kuhn v (...)
  • 21 Noreen Burrows, Jane Mair, European Social Law, Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, 1996 p. 138.
  • 22 Ibid., p. 138.
  • 23 Ibid., p. 138.

20In order to reach its judgment the House of Lords applied the principles developed by the European Court of Justice in two leading cases concerning part-time employees, Bilka and Rinner-Kuhn20. In these cases the ECJ held that to treat part-time employees less favorably than full-time employees, when a significantly smaller percentage of women work full-time as compared to men, amounts to indirect sex discrimination, unless the difference in treatment can be justified on grounds other than sex discrimination. The EC] also stated that the national court, in assessing whether there is an objective justification for the different treatment, must consider whether there is a genuine need for a different treatment and whether the means chosen to achieve it are necessary. On the basis of this reasoning, although the House of Lords recognised that job creation was a “legitimate goal of government policy”21, it nevertheless held that the means chosen to achieve this goal were in breach of European Equality Law. The House of Lords found that there was not enough evidence to support the Government’s assumption that a differential treatment would lead to an increase in the number of part-time jobs available. On the contrary, evidence available from other EU countries showed the very opposite, that part-time jobs had increased alongside and perhaps even as a result of the introduction of legislation which afforded equal rights to both part-time and full-time employees like, for example, in France22. Moreover the Court held that “using legislation which would permit employers to save on costs by maintaining wage differentials would clearly be contrary to the principle of equal pay”23.

21This judgment represented a major breakthrough for part-time employees and in particular for many women whose working conditions improved considerably as they were able to enjoy a wider range of fundamental employment rights, such as for example holiday entitlements, occupational sick pay and pensions.

  • 24 A very high percentage of women in the UK work part-time. According to official statistics publishe (...)

22More recently the status of part-time workers has been further improved by the incorporation into UK law of the European Directive on part-time workers. The new law came into force in April 2000 and by making it unlawful to discriminate between part-time and full-time workers, it has represented a big boost for women working part-time24 as they will be able for the first time to challenge their employers individually on direct discrimination if they get a less favorable treatment as compared to their colleagues working full-time.

23Another area of UK law that had been affected by EU law is that concerning social security provisions. As seen earlier the welfare State was developed on the assumption that a married woman depended on her husband whose role was supposed to be that of “breadwinner” and head of the family. This meant that until the 1980s men, whether husbands or cohabiters, were the recipients of social security benefits. The adoption of the European Directive on Equal Treatment for Men and Women in Social Security (79/7/EEC) and of the Directive on Equal Treatment in Occupational Social Security (86/378/EEC) forced the UK to review its social security legislation in order to implement the principle of equal treatment as required by the Directives. As a result of these changes women are no longer treated by the System as “dependents” and they can access welfare provisions in their own rights.

EU Equality Legislation in Support of Working Mothers

24The area where EU sex equality legislation has had the most significant impact on legal developments in Britain is probably that of maternity rights for working women and parental leave for working parents. EU sex equality law has offered greater support to working mothers in two main ways: firstly by extending the protection of the Equal Treatment Directive to pregnant workers, by establishing the principle that to discriminate against a woman on the grounds of pregnancy is per se direct sex discrimination, because pregnancy is a condition which is unique to women and therefore it is linked to their sex; secondly by introducing special rights for pregnant women under the Pregnant Worker Directive.

25The prohibition to discriminate on the ground of pregnancy had positive implications for British women and particularly for those working for the Army and in the Royal Air Force who would be automatically dismissed from their job if they became pregnant as the Sex Discrimination Act did not apply to them (Section 85 (4)). In 1991 two military nurses supported by the Equal Opportunity Committee brought a successful sex discrimination action against the Secretary of State for Defence that forced the Army and the Royal Air force to change their practices and extend the application of the Sex Discrimination Act to their employees.

  • 25 Simonetta Manfredi, Overview of the Impact of the European Union Sex Equality Legislation on Women’ (...)
  • 26 Helen Fenwick, “Special Protection for Women in European Union Law”, in Hervey T., O’Keeffe D„ (eds (...)

26In 1992 the EU adopted the Pregnant Worker Directive (92/85/EEC) which applies to all women workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding. The legal basis for this Directive is to be found in Article 118a of the EEC Treaty, which is concerned with the harmonization of conditions in relation to health and safety of workers in the workplace. The rationale for reducing the rights of pregnant workers to a mere matter of health and safety rather than dealing with the broader issue of reconciliation of family and work, that since the middle of the 1970s had been identified by the EU as an obstacle to a greater integration of women in the labour market, was to enable the Council of Ministers to adopt the Directive by majority voting in order to overcome the opposition of the Conservative British Government, who was committed at home to a policy the deregulation of the labour market25. Although the British Government’s opposition did not prevent the Directive from being adopted, it did nonetheless have the effect of watering down its content, as the British claimed that the costs of improved maternity rights would reduce employment opportunities for women. For example “the original draft of the directive included an entitlement to paternity leave, although it was not equivalent to the maternity leave”26 but it was dropped in the final draft. When the Directive had to be incorporated into British law, it was met with fearful opposition by the pro Conservative Government tabloid press that presented it as a “surrender to Europe” and claimed that British companies were handed a £ 65 million a year bill to boost maternity pay in line with the provisions of the European Directive. Furthermore, senior British business figures, like Ann Robinson, head of the Institute of Directors policy unit, expressed the view that enhanced maternity rights would backfire against women by making them more expensive to employ.

27In spite of all the opposition and hostility to the Directive, its provisions were introduced in the UK trough the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 which came into effect in October 1994. The new law gave every British working woman the right to a period of 14 weeks maternity leave regardless of hours of work and length of service, during which she would remain entitled to her full contractual terms and conditions other than remuneration. However, during this period she would be entitled to receive maternity pay. The Directive also introduced protection against dismissal based on reasons connected with pregnancy. Furthermore, the new regulation afforded stronger protection to pregnant employees at work by stating that where the health of a woman or that of her unborn child is likely to suffer as a result of her work, she would have to be moved to safe work or, if this were not possible, she would be suspended from work on full contractual terms, including pay.

28Prior to the incorporation into UK law of the Pregnant Worker Directive, maternity rights were restricted to women who had at least a two years uninterrupted period of service with the same employer. Access to maternity rights for women working part-time for at least 8 hours a week but less than 16 hours was further restricted by a requirement of continuous service with the same employer for a period of at least 5 years.

29One can see by comparing the old maternity legislation with that introduced in 1994 that the latter was a major improvement for all those working women who did not qualify for maternity rights under the previous law. The British Government, however, retained the older eligibility criteria in order to access a longer period of maternity leave. This resulted in a two-tier System as women whose conditions of employment could not satisfy the old eligibility criteria would be entitled only to 14 weeks maternity leave, while those whose conditions of employment complied with the old criteria had the right to a longer period of maternity leave of twenty nine weeks after childbirth (Employment Rights Act, 1994, s.79 (1)). Furthermore, although those women who had less than two years of continuous employment qualified for a period of eighteen weeks maternity pay, their right to return to work only lasted for fourteen weeks. This meant that if they did not resume employment after fourteen weeks they would lose their right to return to work. However, if they returned to work their maternity pay would stop. Thus de facto women were only entitled to a period of fourteen weeks paid maternity leave.

30Although the implementation of the EU Pregnant Worker Directive had the effect of introducing an overall improvement to maternity rights in Britain, nevertheless the legal provisions in this area remained complex and continued to discriminate between women who had jobs with a longer period of service and could be entitled to better maternity rights, and those who were in more vulnerable positions and who would only get the minimum entitlement. It has been argued by Fredman that to reserve better maternity rights to those women who could conform to continuous full-time employment is a way of preserving the “male norm” in the workplace.

  • 27 Liz Doherty, Simonetta Manfredi, Hilary Rollin, “European and UK Perspectives on the Family-Friendl (...)

31In spite of the gloomy predictions made by the Eurosceptics about the detrimental effect that enhanced maternity rights would have on women’s employment, there is no evidence to substantiate this. On the contrary, research on a mixed sample of employers in the Oxfordshire area showed that many employers had actually voluntarily improved on statutory maternity rights by extending “the equivalent of statutory protection to those with less than two years service and/or by offering more generous benefits than those set down by law”27 (Doherty et al., 2000: p.75) as they realized the importance of helping women to reconcile paid employment with family responsibilities in order to recruit and retain them in their workforce.

32Another major breakthrough for working mothers has been the introduction of legislation in order to comply with the Parental Leave Directive (96/34/EC). The adoption of this Directive was also opposed by the British Conservative Government that throughout the 1980s exercised its right of veto to stop a number of proposals for parental leave (Fredman, 1997: p.217). However, following the victory of the Labour Party in the 1997 general election, the attitude of the British Government towards Europe, and in particular towards European Social policy, changed. The newly elected Labour Government decided to sign up to the European Social Chapter, unlike the previous Conservative Government that had refused to do it. As a result, the Government was bound to implement the EU Directive on Parental Leave, as well as that on Part-time Workers, and both measures were likely to benefit a high proportion of working women.

  • 28 Charlie Lewis, “Reconciling Family and Work: the Men’s Perspective”, in Family Friendly Policies an (...)

33More importantly, the acceptance of the Parental Leave directive on behalf of the British Government contributed to put the issue of reconciliation of family and work on the public agenda, which until then had been treated as a private matter. Furthermore, for the first time fathers were also granted a legal right to parental leave. This is particularly important as it has been argued that there is a “a deep association between paid employment and the contemporary father identity”28. Over the last decade, working practices in the UK show that fathers with children work longer hours than men with no children. Thus, the question arises as to what extent the workplace culture and expectations of male employees in terms of their performance and commitment to paid employment hinder men’s full integration into family life. Furthermore, if men are not given the opportunity to take on a greater share of childcare, it is difficult to see how a process of redistribution of family responsibilities between men and women can begin. Therefore, fathers’ rights to parental leave “imported” by the UK from EU legislation could potentially have a significant impact in starting a process that would lead to overcome the rigid separation between gender roles, which has so far existed in contemporary Britain.

34The provisions of the Parental Leave Directive had been implemented through the 1999 Employment Relations Act which introduced a non transferable right for both parents to a period of 3 months unpaid leave to be taken any time until a child is five years old. This right, however, only applies to those parents whose children were born after the 15th December 1999. Parental leave can be taken continuously or in blocks of not less than a week and no more than four weeks a year per child. A request for parental leave might be postponed by the employer for a period up to six months, if the employer is of the opinion that it could cause operational difficulties.

35In addition the Parental Leave legislation provides for a right to time off work on the grounds of force majeure for urgent family reasons in the case of sickness or accident of a dependent that requires the immediate presence of the worker. The 1999 Employment Relations Act also extended maternity leave to a period of 18 weeks, thus eliminating the mismatch between the 14 weeks period of maternity leave and that of maternity pay, as discussed earlier.

36The incorporation of the Parental Leave Directive into domestic legislation, however, has been disappointing as the Government has taken a rather “minimalist” approach to its implementation. By choosing to introduce unpaid parental leave, it has de facto restricted the use of this type of leave only to those parents who can afford it. Besides, a low take up by men can be expected if parental leave is not paid at least in part. Furthermore, the law has excluded at a stroke a large number of parents and children from enjoying parental leave by limiting its application to only those children born after the 15th December 1999. This arbitrary cutting date has been legally challenged by the TUC that alleges that it is in breach of the Parental Leave Directive. The case has now been referred by the domestic court to the European Court of Justice that will have to rule on it. On the positive side, criticism on the disappointing content of this law has finally persuaded the Labour Government to review it.

37Change and improvements in the UK legislation have also been driven by the opportunity of closer comparisons with legislative provisions in support of families in other EU member States, as the process of European integration progresses.

38In an article which appeared in The Guardian on September 28th 2000, it was pointed out that in most European Countries women on maternity leave are on average entitled to receive their normal pay for a period of fourteen to sixteen weeks, unlike women in the UK, who are entitled to six weeks maternity leave at 90% of their normal earnings, followed by twelve weeks on maternity pay at the rate of £ 60 per week.

  • 29 The Guardian, March 8th 2001.

39The Labour Government has acknowledged the importance of improving parental rights if they want to fight child poverty and reduce women’s dependence on social security benefits. It ought to be mentioned that in his first budget presented in June 1997, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, announced that the Government would adopt a childcare strategy and that in March 2000 a major campaign would be launched by the Government on work life balance to encourage employers to offer more flexible working arrangements. One of the major drives behind these initiatives has been the welfare to work initiative, in particular that aimed at encouraging single mothers to take up employment. In the March 2001 budget, the Government committed itself to increase maternity pay starting from April 2002 from £ 60 to £ 75 a week. A further improvement will take place from April 2003 when maternity pay will rise to £ 100 a week and paid maternity leave will be extended to 26 weeks. At the same time, for the first time, a two weeks period of paternity leave will be introduced which will be paid at the same rate as maternity leave, £ 100 a week29.

40Since its re-election in 2001, the Labour Government has been considering the introduction of legislation requiring employers to give careful consideration to requests from working parents to change from full-time to part-time employment. Although the law does not guarantee a right to part-time work, nevertheless employers will have to have a valid justification to refuse a request for part-time work.

41Since the incorporation of the Pregnant Worker and of the Parental Leave Directives into domestic law, the UK has developed a much stronger legal framework in support of working parents that has brought the UK legislation more in line with the rest of the European Union member States.

Quotas for women: “The ultimate challenge”?

42In spite of more than 25 years of equality legislation, women continue to be significantly under-represented in the decision making process and in particular in the political arena.

43The Sex Discrimination Act does not allow positive discrimination, therefore any quota System designed to assign posts or promotion to women giving them preference over men with the same prerequisites and qualifications would be unlawful. However, some form of positive action is permitted under the terms of the Act in respect of training, representation within Trade Unions and other elective bodies. Section 47 and 48 of the Act provide that training may be organised for women only, or men only, either by training agencies or employers, to help women to develop the necessary skills “to fit them for work” where they are under-represented, or encourage them “to take advantages of opportunities for doing that work” (Section 48). This type of positive action is clearly aimed at creating the conditions to enable both men and women to compete on an equal footing in the job market but such measures do not guarantee a fairer distribution of posts or promotion among the sexes as the existence of subtle forms of indirect discrimination, prejudice and stereotype can still hinder women’s access to certain jobs as well as their career prospects.

44Section 49 allows Trade Unions and other elective bodies to take measures “which ensures that a minimum number of persons of one sex are members of the body by reserving seats on the body for persons of that sex or by making extra seats on the body available (by election or co-option or otherwise) for persons of that sex on occasions when the number of persons of that sex in other seats is below the minimum”. This clause has caused considerable controversy and challenges to both its validity and applicability. The Act does not allow “discrimination in the arrangements for determining the persons entitled to vote in an election of members of the body, or otherwise to choose the person to serve on the body or discrimination in any arrangements concerning membership of the organisation itself” (Section 49 (2)). Most controversially, it has been both invoked and questioned as a mean of increasing the participation of women in politics. Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected representatives of local constituencies, selected by constituency political party branches to represent them and to compete with representatives of the other political parties for parliamentary seats. Until they are successfully elected to represent their constituency in a General Election or Parliamentary by-election, they are volunteer political activists. Once they become MPs, they are paid a substantial salary and expenses for as long as they remain in office.

  • 30 The Independent, June 10th 2001.

45The Labour Party had for many years “women only” seats on their National Executive, in recognition of the fact that women were and remain under-represented among political activists and also, that in competition with male candidates, women are faced with historically-rooted patriarchal prejudice which makes it difficult for them to be elected on their merits. In 1994, Labour decided to extend its pro-active approach to increasing women’s participation in party politics by identifying constituencies which should be delegated to select parliamentary candidates from women-only short-lists. They argued that the terms of the Sex Discrimination Act did not apply to offices with political parties. However, this approach was challenged in the Jepson case in 1996 where two male Labour activists who (with some reluctant support from the Equal Opportunities Committees) took the Labour party to an industrial tribunal, alleging that their exclusion from constituency short-lists effectively denied them access to the opportunity for employment as an MP. The Tribunal ruled in their favour and although the Labour party could, in theory, have gone to appeal, this would have taken an unacceptably long time in which to hold decisions about the selection of candidates in abeyance. The Party withdrew its “women-only” short-lists but not before several constituencies had selected women candidates from such shortlists. Thus, in spite of the Industrial Tribunal ruling, the “women-only” short-lists produced some positive results as the number of Labour women MPs increased significantly following the Labour Party victory in the 1997 General Elections. 101 women members of the Labour Party were elected to serve as MPs, and in 1997 women represented 18% of MPs. It has been pointed out that such proportion represents a sufficient “critical mass” that would enable women to make a difference to politics and gender equality. The number of women MPs however, suffered a set back at the last general election in June 2001 when the number of women MPs elected for the Labour party dropped to 88 and the total number of women MPs elected in the Parliament dropped from 117 to 106, of whom only 12 were elected for the Conservative Party30. This prompted women activists to call upon the Government to introduce legislation to allow positive discrimination in relation to the selection of candidates for political elections. The result of the last general election in fact demonstrates the necessity of adopting some kind of positive action measures to consolidate and increase women’s presence in the Parliament.

  • 31 Dagmar Schiek, “More Positive Action in Community Law”, Industrial Law Journal, Vol. 27, No 2, 1998 (...)
  • 32 C-409/95 Marschall.

46Under EU sex discrimination law positive discrimination is allowed within certain limits. The EU law in fact seems to have moved towards a more asymmetrical interpretation of the principle of sex equality31 (Schiek, 1998) based on a more substantive non individualistic view of justice that assigns to the Member States a positive role to intervene in order to remedy to structural and social disadvantage that women still suffer in contemporary societies. In a number of recent cases the ECJ has ruled that under the terms of Article 2 of the Equal Treatment Directive, Member States are allowed to adopt positive action measures that include preferential treatment, provided that such measures do not give automatic priority to the candidate of the under-represented sex, that they are applied to candidates that “possess equivalent or substantially equivalent merits” and that such measures are subject to “a saving clause” that would allow an employer or appointment committee to carry out “an objective assessment and take into consideration the specific Personal situation of all candidates” (Marschall.)32

47These legal developments have formed the basis of Article 141 of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which provides that:

With a view to ensure full equality in practice between men and women in working life, the principal of equal treatment shall not prevent any Member State from maintaining or adopting measures providing for specific advantages to make it easier for the under-represented sex to pursue a vocational activity or to prevent or compensate for disadvantages in professional careers.

  • 33 The Guardian, March 1998.
  • 34 The Guardian, Mardi 1998.
  • 35 Anna Coote, “Feminism and the Third Way: a Call for Dialogue”, in New Labour the Progressive Future (...)
  • 36 Ibid., p. 126.

48In 1998 a proposal to amend the SDA, in order to enable political parties to adopt measures in relation to the selection process of candidates that would increase women’s representation in the Parliament, was put forward by the Scottish secretary Donald Dewar to ensure a more equal representation of women and men in the first election of the Scottish Parliament. Although this proposal was backed by a number of Labour cabinet ministers, including Harriet Harman and David Blunkett, at the time respectively Social Security Secretary and Secretary for Education and Employment, it was blocked by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, who argued that an amendment to the SDA in order to allow the advancement of women’s representation in political parties “would be pointless because of the risk of successful challenge under the Equal Treatment Directive”33. In the light of the legal developments at European level, as outlined before, the arguments of Lord Irvine appeared, to say the least, out of touch with recent interpretations by the ECJ of the principle of equal treatment. The Lord Chancellor’s comments, in fact, did attract a certain amount of criticism from legal experts and academics. This criticism is well summarised by a letter sent to the Guardian by Prof. Noreen Burrows, who is an expert on European law. In that letter she challenged Lord Irvine’s views by pointing out that in 1997 the French socialist party reserved about 30% of constituencies to women’s candidates on the occasion of the parliamentary elections and that after that election the Prime Minister suggested to introduce a parity clause into the French Constitution. When planning these changes neither France nor the EU Commission seemed to worry about the compatibility of such measures with the EU Directive on Equal Treatment. She also pointed out that the European Court of Justice has outlawed only measures “which guarantee absolute unconditional priority to women in particular posts” and that the Treaty of Amsterdam “allows States to take measures to ensure full equality between men and women”. She finally expressed the opinion that “far from being a brake on Donald Dewar” attempts to get parity in the Scottish Parliament, Europe would support him”34. In the end in order to achieve a better balance between men and women both in the first elections of the Scottish Parliament and of the Welsh Assembly, the Labour Government decided to adopt a policy of “twinning” constituencies, with each pair selecting a male and a female candidate’35. This strategy led to positive results for women who in 1999 represented “48 per cent of all Labour members of the Scottish Parliament and 50 per cent of all Labour members of the Welsh Assembly”36. This shows once again that the adoption of some kind of positive action, is necessary if the Government intends to tackle the gender deficit in its political institutions.

  • 37 Aileen McColgan, Discrimination Law, Text, Cases and Materials, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2000, p. 1 (...)
  • 38 Ibid., p. 158.

49Politics is not the only area where Labour Government’s policies on gender equality are moving towards a more “continental style” interventionist approach. The Government is, in fact, trying to tackle under-representation of women and other disadvantaged groups, such as ethnic minorities, also in the public sector by setting goals and timetable. For example in the 1999 White Paper on Modernizing Government, the Government underlines the need to “accelerate progress on diversity” in the public sector, expressing concern at the “serious under-representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people “in the more senior parts of the public service”37. As far as women are concerned the Labour Government has committed itself to targets for 2004/5 in the civil service of 35% women in 3000 high level jobs, and 25% women in 600 posts at the very top of the service. At the moment the percentages of women occupying these posts are 17.8% and 12.7%, respectively38. The only way to achieve these targets seems to be the adoption of some positive discrimination measures. However, the UK government has distanced itself from this type of intervention by stating that “goals and timetables” do not amount to “positive” or “reverse” discrimination, and stressing that appointments in the civil service are do be done on the “basis of merits”. The government’s comments appear to be based on the assumption that positive discrimination amounts to a quota System that requires the automatic appointment of members of the underrepresented group, regardless of their merits. This is a common misconception of the notion of positive discrimination, that is often used to dismiss the debate on the use of positive discrimination and its implications. Furthermore, a quota System that would confer an automatic right to the under-represented candidate to be preferred, irrespective of his/her merits, would not be permitted under EU sex discrimination law as the European Court of Justice has clearly stated in the case of Marschall.

  • 39 Aileen McColgan, op. cit., p. 156.

50Although, the UK Government has publicly distanced itself from the notion of positive discrimination, it seems however, that it is moving towards a new approach on gender equality. The latter is no longer seen just as an individual right but also as a collective right of disadvantaged groups, such as women or ethnic minorities. Group rights should have a “remedial” function which means that “the essence of the right would be that positive and effective steps be taken to combat and overcome that disadvantage within a reasonable period of time”39. In other words it appears that even if the UK government is not ready yet to accept the idea of quotas for women, it has nevertheless acknowledged the limits of formal equality and it is gradually taking a more State interventionist approach to overcome socio-economic disadvantage and institutional prejudice that stands in the way of achieving a balanced representation of both sexes.

Conclusions

51It can be argued that the formal symmetrical approach to equality that informed the provisions of both the Equal Pay Act and of the Sex Discrimination Act would have achieved limited progress for women without the drive of the EU Sex Equality Law. As discussed throughout this chapter, overall the EU law has taken a much more substantive approach to gender equality by taking into account that, due to historically-rooted patriarchal prejudice, women often start from a position of disadvantage compared to men.

52Prior to the introduction of the EU Directives aimed at promoting gender equality in the workplace, the UK equality law was based on the assumption that women and men ought to be treated alike, and ignored the fact that they are not alike, not just because of biological differences, but also because of their different roles within society. As seen at the beginning of this chapter, the role assigned to women within the family in postwar Britain, had a significant impact on their participation in the labour market by restricting their opportunities and their full integration in the workplace.

53Under the terms of the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act a woman would be entitled to equal pay if she did ‘the same or a broadly similar job’ as one of her male colleagues, she would be entitled to equal rights in the workplace if she worked full time. In other words a woman had to conform to the male norm in order to be equal.

  • 40 Veronica Beechey, Elizabeth Whitelegg, Women in Britain Today, Milton Keynes, Open University Press (...)

54The EU sex equality law has contributed significantly towards challenging this assumption which formed the basis of the UK domestic legislation. Through the conceptual tools of “work of equal value” the European Court of Justice has oriented the British courts to tackle occupational gender segregation that, according to Hartman, is one of the strategies used by capitalism to ensure that men retain their power over women40 (Hartman, 1976). Furthermore, the interpretation of the notion of “indirect discrimination”, given by the European Court of Justice, has directed the House of Lords to deliver equality to women working part-time. The subsequent incorporation into the UK law of the European Part-time Workers Directive has strengthened even further the position of part-time workers by giving them an absolute right not to be treated less favorably than full-time workers.

55The adoption of the Equal Treatment Directives on Social Security and the consequent amendment of UK welfare provisions, have also represented a major breakthrough for British women, by putting an end to their status of “dependents”. As we have seen at the beginning of this chapter, the social security System in post-war Britain had been permeated by the assumption of a woman’s dependence on her husband or partner. The EU Directives have provided the drive to bring the UK welfare law more in line with social change, as the number of families which depend both on the man and the woman working, have increased significantly. It has been estimated that between 1979 and 1997 the proportion of couples with dependent children where both the man and the woman were working rose from 51 per cent to 62 per cent (Women and Men in the UK, Facts and Figures 2000)

56Important innovations that have also contributed to change the conception of women’s role in British society have been introduced as a result of Britain having to comply with the EU Directives on Pregnant Workers and on Parental Leave. The EU law has helped to promote innovation in two directions: Firstly by strengthening the rights of pregnant women in the workplace and by protecting them from any form of discrimination linked to their pregnancy. Secondly by providing the UK Government with the opportunity to promote through its national legislation a more equal division of gender roles as well as encouraging organizational change in the workplace by becoming more responsive to the needs of their employees to reconcile paid work with family responsibilities.

57All these legal developments have contributed to bring maternity and childcare on to the public agenda which represents a major shift for a country, like the UK, that is “predominantly what might be called a “secular Protestant” country characterized by relatively high individualism”, which was amplified during the Thatcher era (Purcell and Manfredi, 1997: p.7). Prior to the innovations introduced through the EU Directives, overall family responsibilities and childcare issues have all been seen as part of individuals’ private life and not as a matter of public concern.

58However, the “ultimate challenge” from the EU to the individualistic values which inform the UK equality law is represented by the idea of using positive discrimination to address the gender deficit in the political arena and more in general in decision making positions. In an article appeared in The Guardian, Ian Aitken, has commented against the idea of introducing positive discrimination by writing that:

  • 41 The Guardian, March 18th 1998.

The difficulty is that positive discrimination in favour of women means negative discrimination against men. And although it is true that overall fairness to women politicians demands a near-equality of numbers at Westminster, it can turn into gross unfairness for individual men who are barred from the contest by these all women short lists. Some men object.41

59It is suggested that there are deeper reasons which make the idea of positive discrimination unacceptable as a legitimate measure to tackle gender imbalances. The British legal System is informed by the liberal principles of formal justice, individualism and State neutrality (Fredman: p.380), therefore to accept positive discrimination as a lawful measure in order to remedy women’s under-representation in decision making positions would involve to challenge those principles, which are at the very basis of the System. Individual’s rights would have to be weighted against group rights, and in some cases the latter would have to take priority. Furthermore, the State would be required to abandon its neutrality and take a more active role to remove structural disadvantage to enable women to achieve defacto equality with men. Although it is suggested that to accept such principles would probably represent “the ultimate challenge” to the UK equality law, as discussed earlier in this chapter, nevertheless the adoption of measures, such as twinning constituencies at the Scottish and Welsh elections and the setting of goals and timetables for the top jobs in the civil service, seem to indicate that the UK Government has not been completely indifferent towards European trends. Finally although the resistance of the “male norm” in British public life should not be underestimated, having to conform to it is no longer the only way to achieve gender equality.

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Notes

1 Paul Davis, “European Equality Legislation, UK Legislative Policies and Industrial Relations” in McCrudden (ed) Women, Employment and European Equality Law, London, Eclipse, 1994, p. 36.

2 Ibid. p. 36.

3 Jane Lewis, Women in Britain since 1945: Women, Family, Work and the State in the Post-War Years, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 1992, p. 21.

4 Berger, B and Berger, P. L., The War is over the Family: Capturing the Middle Ground, London, Hutchinson, 1983, p. 172.

5 Sandra Fredman, Women and the Law, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1997, p. 127.

6 Ibid. p. 168.

7 Noreen Burrows, Jane Mair, European Social Law, Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, 1996, p. 33.

8 Sandra Fredman, Women and the Law, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1997, p. 234.

9 Catherine Hakim, “A Century of Change in Occupational Segregation 1891-1991”, Journal of Sociology, vol. 7, No4, 1995, pp. 435-454.

10 Noreen Burrows, Jane Mair, European Social Law, Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, 1996 p. 33.

11 Ibid. p. 33.

12 (Case 61/81 EC Commission v UK (1982) ECR 2601). Enderby v. Frenchay Health Authority, C-127/92 (1993) IRLR 591 (ECJ).

13 Enderby v. Frenchay Health Authority, C-127/92 (1993) IRLR 591 (ECJ).

14 Sandra Fredman, Women and the Law, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1997, p. 252.

15 Tamara Hervey, David O’Keeffe D., Sex Equality Law in the European Union, Chichester, Wiley, 1996 p. 406.

16 Evelyn Ellis, “Protection of Pregnancy and Maternity Rights”, Industrial Law Journal, vol. 22 (1), 1993, pp. 63-67.

17 The Wages Councils had been rendered progressively more ineffectual since the mid-1980s by limiting their terms of reference to “Adult Rates” (paid to employees aged 21 and by the decreasing numbers of inspectors employed to monitor industry practice.

18 Barthu Phatel, Women and Low Income. Briefing by the Law Pay Unit. The Oxford Women s Studies Network, Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Business School, 2000, p. 99.

19 Equal Opportunities Commission and another v Secretary of State for Employment (1994) 1 All ER 910.

20 Case 70/84 Bilka Kaufhaus GmbH v Karin Weber Von Hartz (1986) ECR 1607, case C-171/88 Rinner-Kuhn v FWW Spezial-Gebaudereinigung GmbH & Co KG (1989) ECR 2743

21 Noreen Burrows, Jane Mair, European Social Law, Chichester, John Wiley & Sons, 1996 p. 138.

22 Ibid., p. 138.

23 Ibid., p. 138.

24 A very high percentage of women in the UK work part-time. According to official statistics published in the year 2000 by the Women’s Unit at the cabinet office, in 1998, 44% of all women in employment in the UK worked part-time compared with 8% of men.

25 Simonetta Manfredi, Overview of the Impact of the European Union Sex Equality Legislation on Women’s Employment”, Women and Business, Vol. 3-4, 1998, pp. 68-77.

26 Helen Fenwick, “Special Protection for Women in European Union Law”, in Hervey T., O’Keeffe D„ (eds), Sex Equality Law in the European Union, Chichester, Wiley, 1996, p.76.

27 Liz Doherty, Simonetta Manfredi, Hilary Rollin, “European and UK Perspectives on the Family-Friendly Workplace” in Jane Darke, Sue Ledwith, Roberta Woods (eds), Women and the City, Visibility and Voice in Urban Space, London, Palgrave, 2000, p. 75.

28 Charlie Lewis, “Reconciling Family and Work: the Men’s Perspective”, in Family Friendly Policies and Practices at Work, The Oxford Women’s Studies Network, Oxford, Oxford Brookes University Business School, 1999, p. 14.

29 The Guardian, March 8th 2001.

30 The Independent, June 10th 2001.

31 Dagmar Schiek, “More Positive Action in Community Law”, Industrial Law Journal, Vol. 27, No 2, 1998, pp. 155-161.

32 C-409/95 Marschall.

33 The Guardian, March 1998.

34 The Guardian, Mardi 1998.

35 Anna Coote, “Feminism and the Third Way: a Call for Dialogue”, in New Labour the Progressive Future? London, Palgrave, 2001, p. 126.

36 Ibid., p. 126.

37 Aileen McColgan, Discrimination Law, Text, Cases and Materials, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2000, p. 158.

38 Ibid., p. 158.

39 Aileen McColgan, op. cit., p. 156.

40 Veronica Beechey, Elizabeth Whitelegg, Women in Britain Today, Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1992, p. 119.

41 The Guardian, March 18th 1998.

Auteur

Oxford Brookes University

© Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2003

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