Beating the drums at camp Bongo : EU EO policy and its effect on UK working women
This thesis examines why, in spite of three decades of EO policy, workplace inequality persists between women and men. At the heart of this is the explicit question of whether the law is an effective vehicle for change. This thesis researches and analyses the four predominant areas in the EO policy process: EU approach to EO policy, national approach to EO policy, company approach to EO policy, and employee approach to and use of EO policy. This thesis argues that a liberal approach to the law (men's rules for women's rights) is not an effective means of attaining equality. In terms of both policy content and the process of policy making the status quo is upheld rather than challenged. In terms of policy content, the current trend for reconciliation of work and family, aimed predominantly at women, upholds the 'mother as carer' archetype. This has a marked effect even on women who are not mothers: childless women suffer from anticipatory discrimination yet do not benefit from child based policies. Importantly, this thesis shows that at a workplace with a more traditional EO policy awareness and use of EO policy, as well as attitude towards it, are all low. However, at a workplace with a more proactive EO policy, based on the inclusion of all groups of workers, these three areas are marked considerably higher. Despite their increased presence, women may continue to be marginaIised from policy making because they approach politics differently from men. The things women value, such as conciliation, inclusion, and the pooling of ideas, lose out to the confrontational 'power over' style of a political system designed for men. Research of UK MEP's demonstrates that women and men have different attitudes towards working women, towards EO policy, and towards the changes necessary to affect equality for women. Crucially, unless women's alternative approach is allowed to sit alongside the more traditional liberal approach to policy making, women will continue to be marginalised politically. However, women should not wait for change to happen, but orchestrate their own liberation. Women need to start setting the beat by banging their drums.