Muslim girls surge ahead at school but held back at work
John Carvel, social affairs editor
Thursday September 7, 2006
It found that girls of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin - 90% of whom are Muslim - have overtaken white boys in performance at GCSE, with a higher proportion achieving five good passes at grade C or above. Despite lower family incomes they are also rapidly catching up with white girls.
Black girls of African-Caribbean origin are not far behind and already outperform boys from their own ethnic group. The EOC said girls at 16 from all the minority communities have higher aspirations than their white contemporaries to progress to skilled jobs requiring degrees or long periods of training. Nearly 90% want to work full-time after leaving education, balancing employment with having a family.
But their ambitions are thwarted when they enter the labour market. They get lower pay and fewer opportunities to reach managerial positions.
One in six young Pakistani women is often asked at job interviews about plans for marriage and children, or the attitude of a husband or partner towards her going to work. One in eight young Bangladeshi and black African-Caribbean women face similar questions about their private lives, compared with one in 17 white women.
An EOC survey of 1,000 employers in areas of above-average black and Asian populations found more than 90% said there was a strong business case for employing black and Asian women. But more than 30% employed none and nearly 60% did not employ enough to reflect the area's ethnic profile.
Jenny Watson, the EOC's chairwoman, said: "The good news is that the next generation of ... black and Asian women have a lot to contribute to their families and to our economy. The bad news is that not enough employers are tapping into this pool of talent ... It's not only employers who miss out. We all do when young women's ambitions are dashed and we fail to build cohesive communities."