Women in the Arts
2. EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES : POLICY AND PRACTICE cont.
As I have already noted, despite having equal opportunities policies, the majority of professional arts organisations still lack even basic facilities for disabled workers. Is the situation any better when it comes to the concerns of women workers (whether disabled or able-bodied)?
a) Facilities for Carers
Obviously one of the major difficulties facing many women workers is the question of child care. Not that this is the only caring responsibility faced by women and not that some men do not act as carers, but overall one of the major problems affecting women's ability to pursue a career is that of providing adequate child care.
Within the area of the professional arts (non local authority, local authority and educational organisations)
i) 35% of organisations made no provision for workers with caring responsibilities
ii) 18% of organisations did not respond to this question - in many cases because they said they did not have staff in this situation and therefore it was inapplicable.
iii) 47 % of organisations made some kind of provision for workers with caring responsibilities.
Of the 47% who made some kind of arrangement the vast majority offered flexible working hours. In the case of local authorities this was part of their normal arrangements with all workers. Job shares were mentioned by 10% of organisations. Only 5 (7%) organisations either offered or had access to a creche and a further 3 organisations offered some financial help with baby sitting costs. 3 organisations mentioned the possibility of doing some work at home. 2 organisations mentioned compassionate leave.
From this it can be seen that although there is some recognition of the needs of workers with caring responsibilities, in fact support for such workers (of which the majority are women) is at a fairly rudimentary level. It is particularly worrying that over half the organisations had no arrangements at all and indeed in many cases seemed to think that they only needed to think about such arrangements when the circumstances arose. In fact such arrangements need to be part of the basic working conditions, if people with home responsibilities are to be made to feel that they can apply for a job as opposed to feeling that they are a special case and will face difficulties in negotiating their own arrangements.
One of the issues which has been basic to equal opportunities is how to ensure that recruitment procedures are not discriminatory. The effort has been to destroy 'the old boys' network' where who you knew and what you had in common (which certainly included questions of gender and race) were more important than, or at least as equally important as, one's ability to do the job. Basic to this has been the argument for the public advertising of jobs.