A huge majority of working mums think that the Conservative Party is out of touch with women, according to a survey by workingmums.co.uk.
The poll of over 340 women shows 88% say the Conservatives are out of touch with what women want and only 6% say they are in touch. The rest don’t know. It comes ahead of a speech by Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May on women and the economy on Friday, two weeks before a protest by women’s groups on public sector cuts and a week before Workingmums.co.uk launches its first flexible jobs fair in Manchester on 8th November.
Women have been particularly affected by public sector job cuts and public service cuts since they are more likely to use public services and to work in the public sector where traditionally there have been more flexible jobs available.
A recent report in The Times suggests women and in particular those in skilled manual jobs are deserting the Conservative party “in droves”. A report in The Guardian suggested recent moves such as a women in business seminar and a campaign against the sexualisation of young girls were part of a Government attempt to woo women voters.
Caroline Thom from Stockport is a single mum with a four-year-old son. She is doing voluntary work and studying with the Open University while trying to look for work. Her main concern is to find a part-time job to give her “some financial relief”.
A former travel consultant, she left her job to spend time with her son while he was very young. “I have been trying to find a new part-time job, but they are not advertised. It’s as if you are unemployable if you have responsibility for a child,” she says, She would like to see more done by the Government to promote flexible working.
Mandy Garner, editor of workingmums.co.uk, said public sectors job cuts and talk of scaling back employment rights such as maternity leave and flexible working were issues of particular importance to women.
“Rolling back hard-won employment rights – and it must be borne in mind that the right to request flexible working can be turned down on several grounds – will deter women from staying in the workforce and will see companies losing considerable experience and resources. If you look at the most progressive and successful companies, and that includes small firms, they are doing all they can to recruit and retain women precisely because it makes business sense.”
workingmums’ annual survey and local surveys of Manchester mums show women are increasingly turning to setting up their own businesses in order to have more control over their work life balance in the absence of available new flexible jobs.
Mum of two Suzanne Cain is one. She lost her internal communications job at Manchester law firm Halliwells last year and has been looking for a similarly flexible job ever since, without luck. She has decided to set up her own baking business while she continues her search for a
job which allows her to balance work and family life.
She says: ““There is a massive gap in my cv now and running a business could provide me with some skills. I think flexible workers work more productively because they tend to be incredibly focused, but businesses still don’t advertise many flexible jobs.”