Balnacra Arts & Pottery by Vicky Stonebridge

‘Women Talk Money’ conference part 2

Friday 9th March 2012 I attended a conference organised by women@work    twitter = @WEAWomenatWork
facebook =
The theme was ‘Women Talk Money’ -The twitter # was #womentalkmoney

yesterday in ‘part 1 blog’ I wrote about the event generally, now I’ll pick up on a couple of the specific topics. 

The Spirit Level – Why Equality is better for everyone. speaker was Kathryn Busby of the Equality trust.

The spirit level delusion, is a book which i need to now rush out and buy. It covers lots of hard facts and statistical research which provides a mass of evidence as to why inequality is actually bad for everyone across our societies whether Rich or poor. The countries which have the greatest inequality are across the board the same countries where children are worst off, where homicide rates, depression, domestic violence, happiness, community, trust, you name it everyone is worse off under inequality. Many of us from my end of the political spectrum have of course known this intuitively, but this research provides hard scientific evidence as to why we would all be better off with less of a gap between rich and poor. Why social mobility matters. If you search the Spirit level on the internet you will find for yourself all the charts and most of them UK is the 2nd , 3rd or 1st worse in the world. Why are we the worst country for Children’s welfare? why with all these rich people, why don’t the statistics average out, why aren’t the rich people ok even if the poor ones aren’t ? In UK the top wage earners are earning 232 x more than the bottom ones. when asked most people assume it is 6 x .at minimum wage level 6 x would yield an annual salary of around £91 000 why would anyone need more than this ?  the inequality drives ‘status anxiety’ the poorest have no social mobility, no means of improving their situation. the richest are desperately afraid of loosing what they have got, and folks in the middle are desperately trying to improve things for their families. We are currently more unequal than ever. 

Parents are so busy working to provide status objects and material things for their children that they spend no time with the children. 1 in 10 children in the UK is on anti depressants. £400 million is made in the UK on anti depressants a year. Social stereotyping limits us. An experiment took boys in India from all different caste systems and set them an educational test without any of them knowing who was from which cast. the tests results had no relation at all with their caste status. they then discussed who was from where, families and castes. were set another test, this time the high cast children performed the highest and the lower cast children got the worst results. We behave in accordance to how we think we should according to social stereotype. If you don’t believe me and seriously think haveing very rich and very poor people in one society is good for anything please go and read this book. We need to close this gap as a matter of priority!  
Later at the conference I attended a workshop event with Katheryn Busby, we discussed the equality trusts campaign to influence local government and close the gap by:
1) introducing a living wage of £7.20 for everyone rather than the minimum wage of £6.08
2) publish the bottom and top wage earner rates in the council to ensure more transparency and make peopel aware of the gap.
3) work towards shrinking that gap to only 6x which is plenty!

4) make sure private sector contractors also comply to this to start to put pressure on the private sector which is where wage inequality is driven from.

why the campaign to local government? because the private sector are not accountable to public pressure.

I was very pleased having discussed this on Friday to hear the announcement on Saturday at the SNP conference ( #SNPconf on twitter ) that all SNP councils in Scotland will introduce this living wage. 

Gender Equality and Economic Performance- a Question of values , speaker Ailsa McKay, a feminist economist from Glasgow University.

” determined and resourceful women get what they want with perseverance “
Alisa recommended this film to us which is now publicly available; 

Sex, Lies and Global Economics

 She talked about the 3rd sector ( , about the value of women’s work, about all the hidden aspects of society that are crucial but not currently counted or measurable, women’s work being undervalued. All current economic models focus on GDP ( , and governments are obsessed with ‘growth’ as a measure of how well a country is doing. Her wonderful analogy was the Exxon Valdez. If that tanker delivered its load successfully it had a small effect on GDP, on the economic on growth. When it in fact spilled its load (, it had a massive affect on GDP, loads of economic impact, the litigation, the clean up, employment , in fact in terms of our current economic models that disaster  appears to be a massively positive thing. clearly our current economic models need a fundamental rethink. economics currently advising all political parties and Scottish & Westminter governments use these flawed traditional models. These models create our boom and bust cycles. Alisa also talked about ‘deficit fetishism’ the obbsession with deficit reduction rather than investment to get us out of recession. Her analogy here was, ” when the recession hit do you all rush out and pay off your mortgages and credit cards in one go ?” She explained how the deficit is a normal safe aspect of the economy, it is manageable. The current public sector cut backs are increasing the recession and economic instability.
Women in the workplace are being forced into the 5 C’s by family unfriendly working hours and conditions. the 5 C’s are catering, cleaning, caring, clerical and cashiering. These are generally low paid, low status, low value jobs. Women are also the primary household managers, and primary care givers within family roles. those jobs are not valued in economic terms at all.
Women make up 41% of the public sector UK workforce ( affected most by current coalition cuts ), men are 22% . In Scotland women are 67% of public sector. 60% of unpaid caring work is done by women. Women in Scotland are 52% of population, why are we still referred to as a minority ? we are not a minority, but the majority. We are 48% of the Scottish labour market.
I have 6 more pages of notes but I guess that is enough for one blog again!

I’ll leave this with the general observation that I was struck how the speakers themes, workshop discussions and chairs summaries all echoed the same themes that I have encountered at trade union events, community events and within the comics industry. Women lack confidence in speaking out, when we speak out we get some very nasty and patronising flack ” calm down dear “. We must have courage, ‘we must allow ourselves to become unpopular’ for speaking up about what is right, We need to talk about these things outside of our own circles. We must get involved and be part of the mechanisms for change, whether in government, the board room, communities or families. 


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This entry was posted on March 11, 2012 by in Blog.

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