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The CV's fine but will she want a baby?

PUBLISHED: 12:34 25 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:14 05 July 2010

SOMEONE pinch me. Have I time travelled? Been transported to a parallel universe? Are we in 2008 or 1908?

Is there a sinister movement afoot to drive women back indoors to their pinnies, babies and domestics and lock the workforce gate to them taking us back to the "good old days?"

Women are just getting on with everything very nicely, thank you, running companies, countries, economies, global enterprises and achieving everything as well, if not better, than men without anyone even noticing their sex much any more.

SOMEONE pinch me. Have I time travelled? Been transported to a parallel universe? Are we in 2008 or 1908?

Is there a sinister movement afoot to drive women back indoors to their pinnies, babies and domestics and lock the workforce gate to them taking us back to the “good old days?”

Women are just getting on with everything very nicely, thank you, running companies, countries, economies, global enterprises and achieving everything as well, if not better, than men without anyone even noticing their sex much any more.

We go for interviews, impress employers with our education, experience, commitment and drive and are chosen as the best candidates for the job, right? Durr. Wrong. We've been so wrong.

If a woman is anywhere near child-bearing age - which today means anything between 13 and 69 - it's not her CV, personality and experience her interviewers are interested in - it's her fertility.

Instead of hanging on her every word, they're scrutinising her for signs of maternal bent. Does she look the type to have a baby or more children?

What she's achieved at work in the last five years doesn't matter a jot - what she might do in the maternity department in the next two is really what they're bothered about.

Will she or won't she have a BABY?

If their - usually dodgy - male intuition thinks she might, dirty great sirens ring in their heads. Nee-nana nee-naa. Maternity pay. Maternity leave. One person down. Pressure on everyone else. Not worth the risk.

Thank you very much but the job goes to the man.

And it's not just the, let's not forget possible maternity leave employers are worried about. Many seem to think a woman's commitment to her job, ability and motivation to do it is removed along with the placenta in the delivery room.

Three quarters of bosses say they would not recruit a woman if they knew she would get pregnant within six months. Psychic are they? Show me a woman who knows her body is to behave just as she wants when she wants when it comes to fertility?

So are bosses veering “on the safe side” - recruiting men instead of women, just in case.

Half the employers in the survey admitted they had weighed up the chances on an interviewee having a baby. The mind boggles.

And perhaps while they're at it, they could predict if I'll win the Lottery too. What is going on?

No one would dream of asking young men if they planned on fatherhood in the near future- scan appointments, paternity leave, sleepless nights, shared childcare. Unheard of.

They don't ask a male interviewee with a motorbike if he's likely to fall off in an accident and put him out of action anytime soon, or someone who lists extreme sports among his hobbies if he's planning any injuries which force him to have time off.

Unsurprisingly - probably led by Sir Alan Sugar - two thirds of the 1100 employers in the poll said they would like the law changed to allow them to ask interviewees if they wanted to start a family. Ummm. And what would you say if you were desperate for a job?

Shiny £1m a year Natasha Kaplinksy hasn't helped the cause by announcing her impending birth within six weeks of landing her Channel 5 job.

But it was hardly high treason. She's having a baby, not a lobotomy.

Now the Tories are trying to win votes for saying mothers should be paid to stay at home and look after their children. What they're saying is that women should stay at home.

If women want to, fair enough, but most women want to continue to work. Bills have to be paid and we all know what happens to women who drop out of the workforce for five years - coming back is so hard.

Working for mothers isn't a hobby, a “little job” to keep the little woman busy. It's imperative.

In my experience, it's working mothers who make the most focused, efficient and effective workers, managing to get twice as much done in day then men and wasting no time.

Fathers make far more excuses about being tired, slow, fed up or sick because of the children kept them up all night, have a bug or he had to lift a finger with the housework.

Rejecting women because they have a womb is the most short-sighted dumb business decision and one that will come back and bite employers on the bottom when they need skilled workers in the future.

I HOPE teachers think yesterday's strike action was worth it. All I can see they've caused is anxiety, disruption and unnecessary stress for working parents and more anti-feeling towards teachers.

My sons' school wasn't affected but many of my friends' children's schools were. They had to find child care, or take a day off work or, as in the case of a nursing sister in an A and E department, beg colleagues to swap shifts so she could look after her three children when they should have been at school getting an education.

My friend works 12-hour shifts, mixing night and day shifts, and earns considerably less than the reported salaries for classroom teachers. I don't even need to mention holidays.

She has been assaulted numerous times in the course of her work and is regularly threatened with violence in literally life or death situations.

She has to make split second decisions and holds lives in her hands amid chaos, high stress and emotion. She deals daily with smashed bodies from road accidents, dead babies and their heartbroken parents, the ugliest of injuries and human behaviour, the disturbing, the bizarre and traumatic.

Then she has to lock away the stress of the day to go home to cook breakfast or tea for her children.

Would she ever strike because she feels she's underpaid? She'd be insulted if you even asked the question.

THE Shannon Matthews case opened a Pandora's box of social issues festering on hundreds of estates across the country.

It lifted the lid on the Why Bother? culture of generations who've never worked because it's not worth getting out of bed for a job when a benefits system will pay their way.

Amid the allegations involving Shannon's disappearance are benefit fiddle allegations concerning her mother and relatives.

Fiddling is endemic amongst the Shameless culture. It also seems invisible to the authorities.

Families manage to pack their council homes with the biggest, widest and most up to date technology while the cash-strapped struggling workers - in the 10p tax band to add insult to injury - ask perplexed “How can they afford it?”

Almost 3.4m people gave been claiming benefits for more than two years, rising all the time with the number of 18-24-year-olds rising by almost 40pc since 1999 to more than 200,000. Many of these have never seen a parent go out to work.

They manage to want for nothing without a day's work in their lives. But only a fraction are caught.

How can this be? Cameras can detect number plates of speeding cars, CCTV follows us everywhere, traffic wardens seem to know every car that's parked over time but a vast Government department with an army of professional snoopers just can't pick up the fiddlers sucking our system dry.

A bus driver, a father-of-four, was this week landed with a criminal record because he over-filled his wheelie bin and was ordered to pay a week's wages as a fine.

It makes you wonder about a society who sends people to caught for putting too much rubbish in their bin, puts council officials on the tail of a tax-paying, working middle-class family for three months to snoop on their every move to check they hadn't lied on their school application but seems incapable of bringing the scrounging dishonest - funded by your and I - to book.

SCHOOL gate topic of the week - academics' wisdom that unruly pupils' bad behaviour should be ignored in the classroom and prizes awarded for good behaviour instead of punishment.

It makes you wonder if these doctors and professors doing the advising in the safety of the Institute of Education have ever met a disruptive pupil let alone teach a class half full of them.

Teachers need more powers to deal with disruptive children not be told to turn a blind eye. They need conditions conducive to teach children who want to learn.

Parents are running out of patience with the energy, resources and funding to deal wit the terrors determined to ruin learning for every other child.

Prof Susan Hallam insists ignoring poor behaviour and rewarding good “will lead to repetition and bring about change.” Just like that. With a magic wand. Away with the fairies.

THE memoirs of a former Deputy Prime Minister who we all know to have cavorted indiscreetly with his diary secretary isn't exactly the tome to entice us to part with our hard-earned hard-taxed cash.

Something had to bring in advance orders for 'From Prezza:MyStory: Pulling No Punches' - hardly a statesmanlike title among political autobiographies - and what better than a sob story.

Forgive me for sounding unsympathetic and cynical - I have every sympathy with anyone suffering from an eating disorder - but the timing of Prezza's “I had bulimia” confession couldn't be better for him.

Had he bared his soul when he was in power, he could have helped organisations and charities who have to fight tooth and nail to raise funds to support other sufferers. Prescott, in his lofty position and grace and favour house and flat, could have made a difference.

Instead he waits until exactly a month before his book goes on sale to speak out. Very calculating and, some might say, selfish and greedy.

THE credit crunch has really got us now.

The bubble is bursting on expensive face creams. Women are slapping a £2.49 nappy cream on their faces for instant beauty.

One woman said of the Waitrose bottom butter said it had given her the smoothest skin since pre-pubescence.

Husbands will be pleased. Mine insists we'd get the same results from a bar of carbolic soap and a tin of Vaseline as any fancy balm, cream or moisturiser.

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