Women’s Business Council

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 5th September 2013.

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Photo of Margot James Margot James Conservative, Stourbridge 9:30 am, 5th September 2013

What activities have taken place to promote the launch of the report of the Women’s Business Council on maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Under this Government more women are in employment and in self-employment than ever before, but there is much more still to be done if we are to help women to achieve their full potential in growing our economy. We strongly welcome the recommendations of the Women’s Business Council. Across Government we are working with business to ensure that they are implemented.

Photo of Margot James Margot James Conservative, Stourbridge

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. The Women’s Business Council report found that 22% of the gender pay gap is caused by the low pay levels of industries and occupations in which more women work. What are the Government doing to encourage more girls to select science, technology, engineering and maths—the STEM subjects—at school and university, so that they can consider careers in engineering and ICT?

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that the choice of career is key in closing the gender pay gap. Choosing a career in a STEM subject will start to address this important issue that she highlights. We are funding specific programmes with the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and with leading companies such as Atkins, to encourage girls and young women into STEM careers and to increase the number of girls taking up STEM apprenticeships. This is ongoing important work and it is right that she highlights it.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

What are the Government doing to address the inequality in the employment of black and minority ethnic women? One in five black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women are unemployed, compared with one in 14 of their white counterparts.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The hon. Lady is right to highlight the challenges that women from BME communities face. The activities we are undertaking to improve access to child care and training will play an enormous part in ensuring that these women play their full part in growing our economy.