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    Is it cos I’m black…or a woman?

    by Al-Hack
    7th September, 2006 at 3:18 pm    

    Women of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Caribbean descent are doing well in schools but are still being penalised in the workplace, a report suggests.

    The Equal Opportunities Commission found 80-89% of 16-year-olds from those ethnic groups wanted to work full-time. But it said they were up to four times more likely to be jobless.

    This, from the BBC today, based on a report by the EOC.

    Something doesn’t quite stand up in this. Why are Indian women more successful than Pakistanis & Bengalis? If it were a Muslim issue alone then Afro-Caribbean women would not be disadvantaged with them. Listen also to Jobeda Khanum on the Today programme this morning discussing it.

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Race politics,Sex equality

    47 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Indigo Jo Blogs

      Muslim women, hijab and employment…

      Guardian Unlimited: Why are so many of Britain’s Muslim women unemployed? A report from yesterday’s Guardian on how women from ethnic minorities generally, but particularly those of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin have low economic activity and high…

    1. Sunny — on 7th September, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

      Hah! I have to call Jobeda and tease her about this.

    2. Col.Mustafa — on 7th September, 2006 at 3:48 pm  

      I swear every bengali/pakistani girl i know has a Phd in Bio chemistry or atleast a degree in it.
      And all i hear is that theres not enough eduacated guys out there for all these career motivated scientists women.

      Not enough jobs, or employers hire the next candidate that isnt wearing a hijab.
      Not sure about this one, or it could be just a case of late information.
      Meaning there isnt much of a difference between indian women and pakistani/bangladeshi women getting jobs; but instead the figures haven’t fully been calculated yet.

      I would say atleast in the past 10 yrs, maybe even 5 there has been a huge increase seeing bangladeshi/pakistani women getting higher education and going onto work.
      Maybe next year they the figures will suggest something completely different like pakistani/bangladeshi women leave no jobs for white single mothers.
      Who knows…..

    3. Jagdeep — on 7th September, 2006 at 4:09 pm  

      I think you have to look into internal factors for why Pakistani/Bangladeshi women don’t progress as far in the workplace as their academic results suggest they should.

      It is time to stop blaming outsiders for this.

      If we are honest, we will acknowledge this.

      The massive glaring variable in this report is the Indian factor, and as usual it is ignored because it complicates the picture and refutes the agenda people have, the blame-shifting and victimhood agenda.

      There is an Equal Opportunities Commission for the outside world, the world of business and employment etc. But unfortunately there is not an Equal Opportunities Commision that regulates and enforces and investigates barriers and inequalities WITHIN various Asian communities, internal structural inequalities and attitudes that lead to such a waste of talent and stops many women achieving their full potential. That is where the focus is urgently and honestly needed, rather than a total blame ascribing to the outside world, providing fodder for the same old failure to introspect and examine when needed, blame racism, blame prejudice, blame everything but where it lies.

    4. Sunny — on 7th September, 2006 at 4:13 pm  

      I think there is an element of cultural practice in this - that Muslim women are being held back by their parents or husbands who prefer they get married than work.

      But as Col Mustafa says, this does seem a bit outdated to me. I know lots of highly skilled and employed Asian women, specially Bengali women, who lament that while they’re employed and earning lots of money, educated and working Bangladeshi men are hard to find.

    5. SajiniW — on 7th September, 2006 at 4:29 pm  

      Black/Bengali women tend to have children earlier & more frequently. Hence the lack in the workplace.

    6. g — on 7th September, 2006 at 4:31 pm  

      did you guys read the guardian article talking about the same issue? a lot of girls who are muslim face racist employers who don’t like them being ‘too muslim’ and aren’t therefore willing to employ them. one girl in the article mentioned she was called a terrorist once by her boss as a joke. a lot of employers view muslims and especially muslim women as outsiders or weirdoes.

      there are so many muslim girls on my LPC course and there were loads at uni so i don’t really understand why this situation is like this.

    7. g — on 7th September, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

      and as for muslim women being held back….my mum was the most adamant that both me and my sister would pursue careers. do sikh and hindu girls not have any cultural pressures or is it only the poor oppressed muslim women who are trod upon by men?

    8. Kismet Hardy — on 7th September, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

      Making roti round and sofa set clean is also job and good bangladeshi woman need to be good at job to make good wife

    9. Badmash Vikrant — on 7th September, 2006 at 6:14 pm  

      Col.Mustafa is *back* at last… we’cum back mate.

    10. David T — on 7th September, 2006 at 10:41 pm  

      There will be a multitude of reasons, which will include pure socioeconomic factors entirely independent of culture.

      For example, I doubt whether there is an enormous difference between the performance of the daughters of those families, of different faiths, who were turfed out of East Africa in the 1970s. My experience of 2nd generation women is that they’re doing precisely what middle class women do everywhere: i.e. working in the professions, having children late, and so on.

      However, I taught Law at London University college, and my group was full of women who were from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds (as well as those from other south asian families) and they tended to be high achievers. I only came across two women who had family problems: one Bangladeshi woman whose family were all on trial for having kidnapped her sister when they discovered that she was going out with an african carribean man, and one Persian jewish woman who had less severe problems with her family, ordering her out of a relationship. None were discouraged from going to university though.

      There was a minor thing with some of the blokes who had got into HuT, and would hassle the women about being unislamic, but they were generally regarded as hypocrites and therefore ignored.

      This was about 8 years ago.

    11. Chris Stiles — on 8th September, 2006 at 1:12 am  

      Something doesn’t quite stand up in this. Why are Indian women more successful than Pakistanis & Bengalis?

      What doesn’t stand up about this? Study after study shows exactly this - the situation is also reflected for males of the same origins.

      Factor in immigration from different social classes with different initial attitudes to education and you mostly have it explained.

    12. Chris Stiles — on 8th September, 2006 at 1:22 am  

      Something doesn’t quite stand up in this. Why are Indian women more successful than Pakistanis & Bengalis?

      For the record, the comparative figure for Indian males and females with equivalent GCSEs would appear to be 65-66%

    13. Sunny — on 8th September, 2006 at 3:52 am  

      There is an element of anti-Muslim bias here. The research shows that Muslim women are much more likely to be asked about their family affairs, and thus may not employed. So, g is right in that regard.

      An undercover investigation two years ago by Radio Five found that candidates with Muslim names were getting turned down for jobs despite equal qualifications. I suspect that has gotten worse.

      But the question is why are Afro-Caribbean women also suffering?

    14. northern_scum — on 8th September, 2006 at 8:59 am  

      Pakistani and Bangladeshi women should really make more of an effort to integrate…methinks

      I believe if these women really want that dream job then they would be persistent and get there in the end.

      They also have to conform to some extent. I think employers are a bit worried about offending Muslim women because they don’t understand the religion and do not want to risk offending.

      Pakistani/Bangladeshi woman just have to work harder to achieve their goals and break the negative stereotypes. Also I think Indian women do better because they have a totally different attitude, they are more confident and don’t go around acting like exceptions have to be made for them…

    15. fugstar — on 8th September, 2006 at 9:16 am  

      Just give it more time, things will be reorientated.

      People didnt arrive here from out of space, without a social history.

      Deshi and Stani women are a great hope for the community, but remember , that for a lot of us, we are not accustommed to having educated women in our homes for several generations.

      thers hundreds of years of history that contributes to it. Caste, class, religion and region all contribute.

      In south asia, one Muslim responce to the colonisation of british education was to stick two fingers up at it. Also as the displaced power they, we were systematically marginalised from all sorts of things.

      anyhow, enough of the historical excuse.

      One thing i noticed at uni, and a little after undergrad, was how the demands on financially-not-so-liquid Muslim blokes meant that their careers took a decidedly more materialistic slant.

      Also, that Muslim communities have generally more high maintenance families and that teaching is a career that many of the particularly pious chose (not so capitalistic, actual human benefit, comparative freedom and flexibility)

      Of course there is bias in many fields, particularly because of fear and ignorance. I hope this doesnt feed a victimised feeling, and spurs success through sheer funky talent, which i think it will.

    16. Jai — on 8th September, 2006 at 10:30 am  


      =>”An undercover investigation two years ago by Radio Five found that candidates with Muslim names were getting turned down for jobs despite equal qualifications. I suspect that has gotten worse.”

      I can remember both recruitment agencies and some hiring firms exhibiting thinly-veiled hostility towards Asians across the board post-9/11. Let’s not assume people like that can necessarily distinguish between Asians of different faiths based on their names…..

    17. David T — on 8th September, 2006 at 11:58 am  

      Well… I think people can make guesses, in some cases.

      In others, they get it very wrong. CiFers spend all their time saying to Sunny “I wish more muslims were like you” etc.

    18. Queen Bee — on 8th September, 2006 at 12:01 pm  

      I think that Jagdeep makes good points, which chime with my own experience and research on this issue.

      An Equal Opportunities Commission to write reports on the internal barriers and lack of ‘equal opportunities’ afforded to girls within some of our own Asian communities would be an excellent idea, but is of course mere fantasy, as pleasant as I find the thought of it.

      Of course, it is always easier to blame the outsider, than to examine internal weaknesses. For them to be examined, you have to first of all consider it to be a weakness that so many Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are denied the chance to fulfill their potential in the workforce. But when you consider it a virtue that they are to be subject to those pressures which prevent them (when all indicators show that they do and would leave their Pakistani and Bangladeshi male brothers in the dust in academic and employment terms if allowed to), the ability to examine and deconstruct these offending attitudes is not even on the agenda. Fear of female independence and individual autonomy is at the heart of this reluctance.

      Someone mentioned earlier about why the data on Indian girls is not included. I think that examining the reasons for the discrepancy would be instructive. We are of course talking broadly, in generalities, in order to reflect noticeable trends, and so of course there are always exceptions to the rule. But broadly speaking, on the whole, Hindu and Sikh women are not subject to the same intensity of cultural repression at crucial life stages as their Pakistani and Bangladeshi counterparts are. That is not to say that they don’t have problems or that there are not girls facing these issues. It is just to say that in terms of female education and employment, the issues do not on the whole oppress them at that stage in life that is decisive for the independent pursuit of basic potential or a stifling of aspiration. This is, again I stress, all relative and subject to caveats. But it is a truth.

      Further, when a woman is working, she begins to take control of her own body, and studies show that employment is also correlated with family income and lower birth rates. An extra income makes the family less likely to live in overcrowded homes, smaller families allows more attention to be paid to children in terms of educational support. Poverty rates are substantially lower amongst Indian families than Pakistani and Bangladeshi. I am convinced this is precisely because of the relative freedom that Indian women have to pursue careers. These are all after effects of the entry of women into the workforce, and these are trends that are noticeable to varying degrees within the broad range of Asian communities within the UK. Someone also mentioned that teenage pregnancy is another hindrance to performance and this is of course a factor – and the fact that Sylheti women have a shockingly high relative level of teenage mothers in Britain because so many are pressured into marriage at such an early age is another example of this.

      Once again, there are of course exceptions, exemptions and counter-examples to all that I have written. But this is the broad truth as I see it. These statistics are the fruit of a kind of cultural pressure that might be described as a form of coercion, the invisible hand of purdah and female sequestration in Britain.

    19. Bert Preast — on 8th September, 2006 at 12:42 pm  

      The economic inactivity rate of Muslim women is almost double that of other faith groups. Figures disaggregated by gender show 68 per cent of Muslim women are economically inactive, as compared to less than 30 per cent for Christian women and approximately 35 per cent of Hindu and Sikh women.
      Statistics for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women have shown that they have the lowest employment rates compared to other ethnic groups. A study comparing the labour market experiences of ethnic minority women with majority White women found that
      the experiences of Indian women were very similar to those of White women and that the experiences of Pakistani and Bangladeshi women were the furthest away from those of White women.

      A study on this subject

    20. Refresh — on 8th September, 2006 at 12:45 pm  

      Good piece Queen Bee.

    21. Refresh — on 8th September, 2006 at 12:54 pm  

      Queen Bee, you sound as if you are dealing with these of issues professionally. I do have question regarding the concept of actually recognising women who choose not to go into the formal workplace but are paid for the work they do in establishing and running the home.

      How will Asian women fit in with this wort of environment?

    22. Queen Bee — on 8th September, 2006 at 1:11 pm  

      I don’t quite understand the question Refresh. Can you give me some examples of what you mean?

      Bert Preast - good data, thanks for posting it. I was looking for that study when writing my post.

    23. raz — on 8th September, 2006 at 3:22 pm  

      Would be interesting to see the figures for Indian Muslim women.

    24. DR1001 — on 8th September, 2006 at 8:55 pm  

      “Also I think Indian women do better because they have a totally different attitude, they are more confident and don’t go around acting like exceptions have to be made for them… ”

      Are you saying Bangladeshi and pakistani women expect affirmative actions? I’m confused

      Surely confidence has nothing to do with someone’s faith or race, it is the individual own persona, ambitions and opportunities.

      I don’t think it’s too strange to think people can’t tell a muslim name on a cv nowadays, also I feel a hijab wearing women may face some issues and challenges at a workplace, but that again is something that is difficult to prove.

      Generally I agree that depressing as the stats are, we do need to look internally and find out if the barriers within the community especially Bangladeshi/pakistani can be explored.

      Personally I know of many women from these backgrounds (Indian , pakistani or bangladeshi Muslim) that have great solid careers and ambitions and amongst my family and friend’s, a working woman is not an issue.

      I hope that women particualry in the communities facing family barriers in pursuing careers, can use anyone they know who is successful to talk to as a resource and role model, either from their family or close friends.

    25. Chris Stiles — on 8th September, 2006 at 9:31 pm  

      Would be interesting to see the figures for Indian Muslim women.

      Why? No one is blaming Islam - in the abstract - but merely particular cultural practices accreated on top of it in certain communities. That those practices exist is known, that they cause problems in other cases is also known, the extrapolation is a simple one. Queen Bee said it better above.

      Personally I know of many women from these backgrounds (Indian , pakistani or bangladeshi Muslim) that have great solid careers and ambitions and amongst my family and friend’s, a working woman is not an issue.

      .. and Great Uncle Solly lived till he was 90 even though he spent most of his life drunk. To every generalised statistic there are exceptions.

    26. Miss Hawahawai — on 8th September, 2006 at 10:00 pm  

      For Muslim’s the education of the Koran is the foremost vital teaching of any kind.
      And that you don’t get from British schools, you get it from molvi and his danda (the one made of wood)
      How about that for an idea rather than Muslim women are these poor weak trodden feeble creatures.

    27. Refresh — on 9th September, 2006 at 12:07 am  

      Queen Bee,

      Sorry - I am struggling with my keyboard and my last post didn’t quite make sense to me either, esp. the crazy typos.

      A while back, there was a push to recognise the monetary value to the economy of women who chose to opt out of the workplace to build and run households.

      By paying women (or men) the going rate for this valuable work, we would remove some of the gender inequalities.

      How could such a policy impact Asian women? And how could potential problems be overcome?

    28. mirax — on 9th September, 2006 at 8:57 am  


      A few questions, Refresh:

      1. Is the work really all that “valuable” in monetary terms - would a cleaning lady/part cook/part nanny really earn all that much? Come on be honest.

      2. Who do you suggest pays for these women (you added men as an afterthought methinks and are not really serious about this) who voluntarily opt to stay put at home? The government?

      The study linked above does mention that Indian muslims (no gender breakdown given) do substantially better in the employment market than Pakistanis/Bangladeshis. It is not really a religion issue, i remember reading somewhere that Iranians are one of the best paid minority groups in the UK

    29. Refresh — on 9th September, 2006 at 10:23 am  

      Good to hear from you Mirax.

      If you do a search on the subject you’ll be amazed.

      Here is just one link -


      “The economic value of housework
      New survey to track women-dominated labor
      By Kristen Gerencher, CBS.MarketWatch.com
      Last Update: 7:00 AM ET Jan 17, 2001″

      I did add ‘men’ as an afterthought, only to recognise that there is now the concept of househusbands.

    30. Col.Mustafa — on 9th September, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

      These issues are so stupid at times and get blown out of proportion too much.

      The article suggests that after asking only a 1000 women from every background that muslim Bengali/Pakistani and carribean women in general have encountered some negative vibes from certain employers even though they might of had the same qualifications or what not.

      Now even in insular muslim/bengali communities i know of with my own eyes several women working.
      Granted several of them are working within thier own communities; i.e social workers.
      But i don’t see how thats a problem seeing as though who else is best suited to work within these communities other than people from the community.

      Im not sure what people are trying to suggest here; but it seems like what im hearing is that muslim bengali/pakistani women should be making more of an effort to work in different areas.

      This is a very vague article which suggests nothing to be honest apart from predicting that these 16 yr olds might grow up and not get work.
      Surely it depends on what they do in thier lives, what subjects they decide to study, whether they want to study, where they study, who they meet, blah blah.

      First of all the problems which we are talking about here will be more evident within insular communites.
      Bengalis in Tower Hamlets/ Pakistanis in Bradford you get the point.
      Now from my own knowledge, the problems in these communities are that the men are the ones that are mostly unemployed, and diverting off the whole career aspect either into crime/drugs or just plain idleness; while their sisters and wives are working.
      I mean there’s even the issue of many of these women that have been married off before they finished uni to some dude from Pakistan or Bangladesh cos thier parents still believe in that kind of thing, but woman is still working while new husband is sitting at home watching trisha.

      Theres a bigger problem here than what were talking about, in my opinion im very proud at the fact this new generation of muslim women are much more work and study orientated than before.

      Don’t get me wrong theres still plenty of women being held back.
      I mean even when youv’e got a family of 2 bros and 2 sis, mum and dad don’t work cos they cant even speak the lingo, bros are fucked on drugs and guess whose working.
      That scenario is more common than you think in these communities.
      And yes that factor also is holding these women back from maybe much better careers.

      But again different factors are at play here, and different methods need to used to try and help the situation.
      Its not like there aren’t poor white insular communties around England in which a huge drug/crime culture isn’t evident.
      If anything these women that are working within such a depressive environment should be commended even more.

      Also people i think we are forgetting another factor which is that women and men from Pakistan/Bangladesh are still coming here mostly through marriage and not to study or work.
      So obviously the stats are going to reflect that; seeing as though alot of the women and men that coming over cannot speak english, have limited education and cannot join the workforce immediately.

      Hey thanx Viks; good to see you lot too.

    31. Queen Bee — on 9th September, 2006 at 12:11 pm  


      I want public policy to reflect the need for encouraging Pakistani and Bangladeshi women to work in order to offer choices to them, and so that they can follow the example of Indian women.

      Female employment quickens integration, improves the mental and physical health of Asian women, reduces poverty, overcrowding, leads to lower birth rates, and begins to automatically corrode male hegemonic assumptions within families. It is the surest route to female emancipation within Asian communities.

      A deeper study of the Indian experience and patterns of employment and achievement here would be instructive, how they reached the stage they are now at, almost at parity with the work patterns of white women. At the end of the day, economic necessity will liberate.

      So as a matter of course, I would be opposed to any policy consideration that encouraged the entrenchment of current employment patterns amongst Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, including the idea of paying them for housework. In fact I would want government to take extra steps to set up a commission to investigate this very problem and provide strategies to be pursued to do everything possible to shatter these entrenchments. I wish it could be done with the same sanction as a report from the Equal Opportunities Commission would provide.

      But as you may be aware, I would be cynical of this kind of progressive championing of Asian women’s causes to emerge, given that the need of the day is to bolster the self-esteem of male Asian identity-politicians and have tea and samosa parties for them as Rome burns and Mirpuri and Sylehti women are muffled and oppressed.

      In an ideal world I would do everything possible in terms of legislation to narrow the opportunities for patriarchal paradigms to be maintained in extremity by outlawing forced marriage and seriously considering how to prevent British girls being ‘persuaded’ into marrying men from Pakistan or Bangladesh by restricting immigration flows from those countries on the basis of marriage to a British citizen, or at the very least, making such marriages less easy to process. I would even set up a task force with the aim of bringing the employment levels of Pakistani and Bangladeshi women up to the national median, I would involve all social agencies in this, I would even, if nessecary, disallow welfare payments to women who claim to be unable to work because of cultural norms of sequestration. The times call for tough love. But the tough practices of some men and their cultural sensibilities demand tough responses. We are British and the writ of British society shall be supreme for Asian women, no quarter can be given, the atavism has to be stopped and if changes cannot take place gradually through internal reform and natural liberalization then we can quicken and challenge these norms rigorously through campaigning and where necessary with government and agency support. (Although government is predictably slow in granting us what we need to empower ourselves, in some areas it has done good, in others it has been inadequate)

      But then on these matters I am a militant. I have seen too much to make me soft-soap the needs of the times.

    32. mirax — on 9th September, 2006 at 1:45 pm  

      >>But then on these matters I am a militant. I have seen too much to make me soft-soap the needs of the times.

      This kind of militancy I back 100%!

      >>>Female employment quickens integration, improves the mental and physical health of Asian women, reduces poverty, overcrowding, leads to lower birth rates, and begins to automatically corrode male hegemonic assumptions within families. It is the surest route to female emancipation within Asian communities.

      What’s often forgotten is that female employment benefits the entire community’s socio-economic profile.

      Col Mustafa (good to have you back, the number of times people asked after you…)makes several very good points. It seems that while there may have been a fairly rapid change in the number of Pak/bangla women working - marriage to spouses from overseas skews the picture, and possibly, sets some families back. Like Queen Bee mentions, some of the assumptions that makes families arrange such marriages need to be challenged.

    33. Sajn — on 9th September, 2006 at 1:58 pm  

      Generally the women that have arranged marriages with men from overseas have to provide evidence of employment in order to apply for a residency visa for their spouses so I am not sure if that is as big a factor as you seem to think.

    34. Sunny — on 9th September, 2006 at 3:39 pm  

      Good points Col, I think the article provides too simplistic an analysis.

      Queen Bee: It is the surest route to female emancipation within Asian communities.

      See, I agree with this. I was having this conversation with two women and I was saying we need to find ways to empower women such as education and employment and a better understanding of support structures (in case of abuse etc) and I got back this bizarre reply that no the problem was men who needed to be “educated”.

      Now I agree that there is patriarchy that need dealing with and we have to make societies more equal. But “educating men” is, I believe, a tactic that won’t work. It is resource intensive and I don’t think the incentives are created for men to change their behaviour. It makes more sense to focus resources on empowering women. But apparently I was being patriarchal. Sheesh.

    35. Rowshan — on 10th September, 2006 at 1:01 am  

      Wow this is an interesting discussion.

      The point of research like this is that it has already taken into account cultural factors - and then dis-aggregated levels of employment and progression.

      Years and years and years of research has demonstrated the same thing and here we are reducing this research to cultural constraints - blaming the practices within rather than the structural inequalities that maintain such dire statistics. The ladies in question here are precisely the ones who have broken stereotypes, acquired qualifications that are better than their white counterparts and STILL they are not progressing. This is about the lack of opporunities within the work-place - not about cultural repression. I am rather disappointed that progressive politics contributions have taken such a reductionist view of this situation. Indian women do better because frankly their entry point into the UK were earlier and they also came from more prosperous background with skills to enable them to enter the labour market with more ease. The Pakistanis - particularly the Mir Puris and most definately the Bangladeshis came from rural and less education backgrounds. These facts should speak for themselves before we start piling on the cultral explanations. I do my best to pursue my goals at work, I even build bridges so that my white colleagues can understand us and vice versa - and I am Bangladeshi, female and far more qualified than my white colleagues, and I completely agree with Jobeda Khanom’s analysis.

      This research exposes the lack of progression within the workplace - the place to debate gender practices in Asian communities - while a valid topic - is irrelevant here and distracts from the issue at hand - what to do about the inequalities in progression for Pakistani and Bangladeshis women - not abou what age they marry, what their men do, how they are different from Hindu women etc. We should be asking what attitudes within the workplace affect their opporunities for progression? Should my ability to talk about Queens Park Rangers or the taste of South African wine at a social evening determine how my colleagues perceive me? What is it about informal networking and sociability that drives the business environment - and if so, why are some groups more excluded than others? Finaly - for those of us who cannot join in the drinks in the pubs after work - are we not integrating?

      This research wasn’t supposed to spawn a debate on whether female employment promotes integration. No one is disputing this in the research( though plenty might be in our communities). This research puts into the frame those women who ARE ALREADY IN EMPLOYMENT and NOT MOVING ON.

    36. Kismet Hardy — on 10th September, 2006 at 8:57 am  

      I think we need women. It’s wronmg to say we don’t. Some of your ‘comments’ about these so-called ‘women’ makes me think you lot would rather there were no women, rollerblading with their dry-weave top sheets and splashing in puddles and spinning in the streets like banshees, but you’ve all forgotten one crucial thing about womnen - they make babies, which grow up to be people. So think about that.

      Let women be. For the sake of all our ‘survival’.

    37. Jagdeep — on 10th September, 2006 at 1:38 pm  

      Indian women do better because frankly their entry point into the UK were earlier and they also came from more prosperous background with skills to enable them to enter the labour market with more ease

      If it is about women in employment at present then this also has nothing to do with the question in hand. Because if, as you suggest later in your post the cultural issues do not come into play, then this too is irrelevant, because it is strictly dealing with women already in employment. So surely those women are equal already? Or are you saying that culture DOES have a significant influence on this? So you contradict yourself immediately.

      The question still remains, why do Hindu and Sikh women progress further inside the workplace than Pakistani and Bangladeshi women? Once a qualified Pakistani or Bangladeshi woman is in the workplace, what prevents them from achieving? Plus, the point of entry explanation does not really apply to Sikh women, whose ‘point of entry’ was as unskilled working class labourers from the Doaba/Jalandhar region of Punjab, which culturally and in terms of economic profile is similar to that of Pakistani migrants.

      We should be asking what attitudes within the workplace affect their opporunities for progression? Should my ability to talk about Queens Park Rangers or the taste of South African wine at a social evening determine how my colleagues perceive me? What is it about informal networking and sociability that drives the business environment - and if so, why are some groups more excluded than others? Finaly - for those of us who cannot join in the drinks in the pubs after work - are we not integrating?

      What is your point? That people are horrible racists and oppressors because they go to wine tastings and talk about football? This is truly reductionist reasoning, and is an attitude of failure, pre-disposed failure, blaming others for failure. But I am at a loss as to the point that you are making. What do you suggest, that the evil and wicked conventions of British business socialising and networking must change or else there will be exclusion? On so many levels, on so many assumptions, this is wrong, and little more than another excuse for failure. The fact that women from Asian backgrounds do and have succeeded at that level in and of themselves are proof of that, and I believe that this is the true reductionist argument - and that the seeds of the argument are contained in your post, when you blame others for a failure to get on in work, by typing a litany of ‘injustices’ which you have to surmount (like evil wine tasting and networking that you dont like)

      So the question you believe we should be asking is about how that the entire business and professional culture should be changed to accomodate you and others. And you accuse others of reductionist thinking! Amazing.

      As usual, those who fail make excuses, shift the blame, and have a losers mentality to begin with, then blame all but themselves for their failure. Toughen up, stop whining, move on.

      (By the way, your representation of the British workspace is a caricature, and the example of strong, ball-busting, very successful Asian women (of all backgrounds) in the City, in business, in the professions, are living refutations of all the excuses that can be made — if they can make it so can anybody, and if you/they have to work a little harder, well, welcome to the real world — where marginal people thrive because they are forced to prove themselves and excel)

    38. Jagdeep — on 10th September, 2006 at 1:52 pm  

      My sister is a successful barrister in London and is progressing well in her career. She neither drinks nor smokes and doesnt know the first thing about football. How is it that she has managed to negotiate the dreaded evil anti-Asian woman oppressivness of wine tasting and discriminatory networking cultures to get on in her chosen profession. She must be some kind of coconut sell out Uncle Tom, right? Hmmmm….lets see where this line of explanation takes us.

      I must ask my tee-total cousin-sister in Slough who has just qualified as a pilot about this too. I must come from a family of female coconut sell-outs or something. I just don’t get it. They are letting the side down, by doing well in their career, without acting like floozies by attending wine tastings and bars and other crucibles of anti Asian woman oppression like that.

    39. Sunny — on 10th September, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

      Jagdeep you’re being unnecessarily sarcastic. I have a family friend (male) who is quite religious and works in an environment which is very male dominated and says that even through he tries his best to mix, they still see him as an outsider because he does not drink or go places they do etc etc.

      I think people’s experiences are going to be different. In certain environments there isn’t an emphasis on after-work mingling, in others there is.

      There was a recent report by the gay-rights group Stonewall that said the same thing - the drinking, mixing and macho culture in the city put many gays at a disadvantage. So I’d say this can apply to a whole disparate bunch of people.

    40. Kismet Hardy — on 10th September, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

      There is nothing wrong with drunk sluttish sexy young Asian women. Nothing at all

    41. Sunny — on 10th September, 2006 at 2:23 pm  

      A further reading of that short press release is interesting. It says:

      1) The report makes it clear that a focus only on “cultural factors” - which suggest that the problem lies with the women themselves because they don’t have the skills or have families who don’t want them to work - misses the point for many of today’s increasingly well educated and ambitious young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women, especially those born and educated in Britain.

      2) 90 percent of Pakistani and Bangladeshi girls say they have the support of their families in pursuing their education and career aspirations rather than being expected to get married and have children — not far behind the 97% of white girls who say this.

      As it is, women have discrimination in that they’re not easily promoted to senior levels (across all races) or questioned unnecessarily about their family structures of plans to get married etc.

      I suspect its taken a few years for men to get over gender discrimination (though they haven’t entirely) and now they’re applying this to Muslim women to a certain degree.

      But the waters get muddied because the same should not apply, in theory, to Afro-Carribean women. Which suggests this analysis is a bit simplistic.

    42. Jagdeep — on 10th September, 2006 at 2:25 pm  


      The report would have been more intersting had they included Hindu and Sikh women in the study group. Why do you think they didnt?

    43. Katy — on 10th September, 2006 at 2:33 pm  

      Which suggests this analysis is a bit simplistic

      I agree. I think that the UK class system is still a major factor. For example, if you take your average upper-middle-class English “lite” racist (as in someone who secretly finds ethnic minorities unsettling but is not sufficiently excited about it to join ranks with the BNP, and I think there are a lot of those around), they might whinge about minorities but when their back’s against the wall they’d rather live next to well-off middle-class non-English/non-White family than not-nearly-as-well-off working class white English families, and that tends to mix up what at first looks like straightforward racism. I think that this might be as much about where people are perceived to slot into the class system as it is about straightforward discrimination based on ethnicity.

    44. reed1 — on 10th September, 2006 at 10:35 pm  

      People! The topic of discussion here is a sweeping statement prone to more lucid statistical tests. Where is any independent data to prove that Indian women are “more successful than Pakistanis and Bengalis”? Needless to burrow into such subjective vistas while forgetting the relative implications of the term “successful”, I think it’s borgus-logic to attach success to only academic or career sreams. Virtually, if not concretly, it’s a question of each individual’s spin of what makes a successful woman. How many women reach the zenith of academic and professional goals, and yet still, unhappily married, divorced, or even unmarried? Ask any woman to choose between a happy marriage or paper-marked credentials - and I’m not the least watering down the meeds of academic or career excellence. If Indian women are puportedly deemed more professionally and academically sublime, let’s also factor India’s incomparable population to Pakistan or Bangladesh’s into the whole issue. As for the job market, it’s no surprise to me that some, if not many, muslim sisters are being marginalised because of the veils or just the islamic identity. But that has a long debate which can’t all be addressed here right now. Besides, would such marginalisation reign supreme in non-western countries? I hope some keen-minded fellow sheds more light on that while I retire.

    45. Rowshan — on 11th September, 2006 at 12:25 am  


      Reports of these sort usually look at all groups - including white, Hindu, Chinese and so on. They then look at the lowest cohorts which in this case are the Bangladeshis and the Pakistanis. My point is that these two south asian groups are also the most deprived economically. The statistics speak for themselves. That doesn’t mean we are looking to blame things on others. It simply means that we ask why this is the case and presumably we ask why because we’re interested in seeing a more egalitarian society.

      My point about wine tasting and Queens Park Rangers wasn’t a racist point. I guess I was being subtle but was in fact talking about different people’s class related habits and hobbies. A white working class person might struggle to talk about spending the weekend at Wimbledon and a posh person might struggle to talk about QPR - a Pakistani or Bangladeshi might struggle with the wine and the QPR. The point is that our informal activities shouldn’t ‘cement’ our work relationships as increasingly the job market is full of different types of people - after all, that is what is meant by globalisation. In order for businesses to do well they gotta change - that is not just my expectation but it’s the only way for businesses to survive, this principle also applies to the individuals who work in organisations. In the private sector in the past 25 years this is accepted - and this diversification argument is applied to the different skills that minority groups now bring into the workplace. Many people argue that old boys network, Oxbridge networks are exclusive and should not be tolerated- that is exactly what I mean by informal connections and sociability. Old boys networks sustain the professional culture of businesnes and organisations but there is recognition that this isn’t progressive or good for competition - and so yes, many would agree with me that professional cultures ought to be more accomodating. That is not the same as blaming others - it is workign towards a more skilled economy.

      Just because I can’t relate to wine tasting doesn’t make me racist - I am sure you didn’t mean to imply this. As to your incredibly successful Asian females who have negotiated their workplace - that’s great , but I have a few anecodates I can relate which can prove the opposite and that’s why we rely on independent research and policy to guide us - the trick i think is not to generalise from your neighbour and my neighbour.

      If we followed your argument, most feminist analysis of the workplace would also be wrong, I guess. But do men and women enjoy equal pay ? I think not. Even our white sisters are grappling with this one.

      You raised many points but Sunny seems to have written a broader response which picks up on some of my points .
      But I just want to come back with one thing. Who said wine tasting is evil? I just said I can’t relate to it and that my reptation at work shouldn’t be affected by it. I should be judged on my work outcomes, and not whether i can hang out in the Groucho Club or the Working Men’c Club.

      I think it’s better to leave moral language out of debates - words like evil are a bit much!

    46. Rowshan — on 11th September, 2006 at 12:30 am  

      If anyone is interested the fourth Policy Studies Institute on Disadvantage and Diversity is just one of many policy papers on the profile of ethnic minority groups compared with white british counterparts. I am sure the CRE will have scores more. There is nothing new in this research.

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