Sexual equality and diversity in a modern Scotland

Tea & Talk
Publication Date
Professor Lynn Abrams FRSE
Professor Ian Rivers FRSE
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Tea and Talk with the RSE
Sexual equality and diversity in a modern Scotland

Scotland has become a massively more diverse country in the past fifty years. The advent of better birth control methods in the 1960s sparked an attitude shift and offered more freedoms to women in their lives, their place in the labour market and to a person’s sexual identity entirely. However, alongside these freedoms came issues like the gender pay gap, LGBTI discrimination and the distribution of labour.

In S03E03 of the RSE Tea and Talk Podcast, RSE Fellows, Professor Lynn Abrams and Professor Ian Rivers discuss how Scotland can address these issues. Lynn is Chair in Modern History and a member of the Centre of Gender History at the University of Glasgow, Ian is Professor of Education for Social Change at the University of Strathclyde who researches bullying behaviour in schools, focusing particularly on the bullying of LGBTI young people and the psychological effects of being a bystander.

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Episode transcript

Please note transcripts are automatically generated, so they may feature errors.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the RSE Tea and Talk podcast series, a programme inspired by the coffee houses of the 18th century, where great thinkers would come together to discuss ideas and matters of the day. I’m Rebekah Widdowfield, and I’m Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which is Scotland’s national academy.

Our mission is to advance learning and make knowledge useful. And to do that, we are holding conversations with some of our Fellows and other leading experts in Scotland to talk about important issues and the challenges we face as a society. You can find out more about our work on our website at or follow us @RoyalSocEd.

So today, I’m speaking with Professor Lynn Abrams, Chair in Modern History and a member of the Centre of Gender History at the University of Glasgow and Professor Ian Rivers, Professor of Education for Social Change at the University of Strathclyde, about equality and diversity.

Lynn is a historian of gender and gender relations. Her field of interest ranges from the emergence of the modern female self in the late 20th century to the history of masculinities in Scotland. Ian, on the other hand, is a psychologist and educator who researches bullying behaviour in schools focusing particularly on the building of LGBTI young people and the psychological effects of being a bystander.

While the focus of their research is different, both have a passion for exploring diversity and inequalities, so who better to talk to us today on these important topics?

Lynn, maybe I could come to you in the first instance. Your studies looked at gender and gender relations from the late 18th century to the present. And you’re currently researching post-war women how inequalities between men and women changed over time. And what particular changes have you seen in the last 50 years?

Lynn Abrams: [00:01:50] Well, thanks very much, Rebecca. That’s obviously a huge question. I will focus on the post-war period. I think if, if, if that’s okay. I think there are a couple of areas. Which we might focus on one clearly is sexual freedom. There’s been a massive change in sexual freedoms since the second world war and, more particularly, since the 1960s, and perhaps more, especially for women with the advent of much-improved birth control contraception.

So we have a much greater choice in terms of having a family, the number of children and so on. And that clearly has massive consequences down the line for women’s engagement in the labour market and their lives thereafter. And clearly, I’m sure Ian will perhaps talk more about this sexual freedom regarding who you want to be in terms of one’s sexual identity.

So that they are absolutely massive changes that have happened in the last 50 years or so, I think the other really big area is concerning work and reward for work. And again, more particularly for women, I guess I’m more interested in equality around women’s opportunities. The opportunity to engage in more work areas, the opportunity to engage in the labour market over a longer period of time in a women’s life course.

That’s really, really changed over the last 50 years, but also reward for work. And of course, we still have a gender pay gap which I think is about 13, 14%. But having said that, there has been progress in terms of the opportunities for women to engage in a whole range of work areas and the reward that they receive for that work.

There are some areas, though, however that are much, much more resistant. To change. And I guess we’ll come onto that perhaps a little bit later. And I would say that those areas are mainly the division of labour in the home that’s changing, but still, that’s quite a resistant area and also work again. Although opportunities have increased massively for both women and men, the distribution of those jobs has actually stayed quite resistant to change. So we still see women dominant in the domestic and caring areas.

Rebekah: [00:04:13] That’s really interesting. I think then maybe that links to some of the work you’ve been involved in, Ian. And so I was thinking about Lynn’s comments about the distribution of jobs and how that distribution of jobs falls out of the school system and the education that young people have.

I know you remember the First Minister’s task force on gender equality and education and learning. And I wonder if you can tell us a bit more about how this gender inequality manifests itself in an educational setting and what the consequences are of that?

Ian Rivers: [00:04:39] Yeah. I mean, I would echo everything Lynn has said about job opportunities increasing over time, but there is still very clearly a divide.

I mean, one of the things that we’re currently dealing with within education is the disparity in the take-up of posts in primary education, or indeed those seeking primary education. Where it still falls in the majority to women. And, of course, in secondary education, there is still an under-representation of women in STEM subjects.

So, pupils are not seeing women leading STEM still. They are still not seeing enough women in engineering. And these are all factors that we have to consider in terms of making sure that we are giving the right guidance in terms of, you know, I think one of the questions is, do we go gender blind or do we go gender literate?

And I think it’s gender literate that we really need to focus on. And I, I mean, I personally would like to see a great deal more balancing of the workforce in education concerning the task force itself. I suppose there are two elements to this: one related again to the workforce, which is, is the curriculum really no longer gendered in a way that perhaps it was in the seventies, eighties and nineties?

And I’m not sure that we’ve got past that. I still think there may be situations whereby girls are directed into particular curricular opportunities, more than boys and vice versa. I think the other thing is, is school a safe place? Are any educational settings safe for women? And that’s a huge debate that’s going on from early years through to tertiary education.

So that’s another aspect of the First Minister’s task force that we’re looking at. You know, we have issues with sexting texting. I mean, just this week, we’ve had the Chief Inspector for Ofsted saying that the sending of nude pictures is no longer a child protection issue. And given that girls are more likely to be encouraged to send pictures, the boys will distribute them. And that’s research from Australia. I think the fact that we’re saying that it’s no longer a child protection issue and it’s part and parcel of everyday life is really quite worrying.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:07:25] And Lynn, how do you see this? Or are you seeing this playing out in terms of your work at the university and these sorts of inequalities in terms of gender?

Lynn Abrams: [00:07:36] Oh, I suppose in terms of the gender distribution of subjects taken, we see much more equality, actually. So this is Glasgow University. It might be very different in other institutions, but some of the areas, which used to be completely dominated by male students, are now very dominated by female students.

So law, medicine, veterinary science, and big changes are happening in STEM subjects. But I think there are still some areas that are still quite, still a lot of work to do engineering in particular, in the arts and humanities and social sciences there’s much more of a balance as there has been for, for a long time.

I think the issue around sexual assault, safety, and so on in universities is very live. And it’s something that our students are, are very vocal about and rightly very, very concerned about and universities having to think quite hard about how they deal with that situation.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:08:45] Just going back to the imbalance in terms of subjects and jobs, the RSE did a report on Tapping all our Talents, looking at women in STEM. And then we did a follow-up study about five years later to see what had changed and, and the talk about the sort of leaky pipeline where the further you go up, but, or the more senior people get in positions in university, in, in STEM subjects, the more women drop out if you like, or not represented at the sort at the more senior levels.

But talking about this sort of some of the areas you’re seeing around sexual assault, whether people feel safe in the environment, do you think behaviours have changed and there’s more of inappropriate behaviour or is it that they’re being talked about and there’s greater visibility to them?

Or do we just not know?

Lynn Abrams: [00:09:36] I don’t think we know,

Ian Rivers: [00:09:38] I think, I think that’s right.

Lynn Abrams: [00:09:41] I really don’t think we know. My impression is that people are much more open about this kind of stuff now. And people are much more willing, and of course, there are, and there are avenues to make complaints.

There are avenues in which to speak about this kind of thing. Whereas perhaps in the past, there were not. But that’s not to say that there hasn’t been an increase. So I think it’s really, it’s really difficult to tell actually, but obviously, it’s positive that people can speak about this kind of thing and, and that they all coming, coming forward and the universities are having to respond to it.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:10:24] And how, in your work in schools, Ian, and looking at the bullying of LGBTI young people, how have you seen that sort of change over time?

Ian Rivers: [00:10:34] Well, I mean, we’re very lucky to be living in Scotland, I think at the moment because we now have an LGBTI curriculum, which is really, really important in terms of at least casting a light and not silencing that particular group of young people within schools and recognising that they exist.

But if I look back say 30 years to when I started researching this issue, I, you know about, I think in the very first study I did, about 11% of the participants said that they’d been sexually assaulted and or raped at school and was not brought to the attention of law enforcement, rather it was dealt with by the school.

And I think, you know, we’re now seeing a very, very different approach taken by schools and the police to these sorts of issues. But we still have a great deal of intolerance. I mean, the fact that local authorities, even though LGBTI curricular is supposed to be nationwide, one local authority saying they’re not going to do this, they’re going to do something else.

The fact that we do constantly have push-back on this particular issue, even though there are all sorts of legislative changes. I mean, we’ve had the Equality Act for over a decade, and you know, we’re still fighting. And some of it really is about just visibility and recognising that there is not one group in the classroom that there are different identities in the classroom.

We’ve managed it with other identities, but I do sometimes struggle with the vitriol that comes back when you start talking about LGBTI issues and young people because some of it is still incredibly, incredibly negative and destructive. And I think, of course, we might want to move on at some point to talk about social media, about the destructive influence of social media now, particularly around issues of sexuality, is tremendous.

Rebekah: [00:12:52] And of course we’ve seen that sort of destructiveness of social media in terms of women as well on that issue, but on other issues as well, where, you know, a number of women who’ve removed themselves from social media and I’m thinking I’ve forgotten her name, that the woman who, who proposed putting another woman on the banknote and the level of vitriol that she received.

I mean, Lynn, are you seeing much of that in your work? Is that something you’ve particularly explored or looking at as part of your work on post-war or womanhood?

Lynn Abrams: [00:13:21] I haven’t actually, no. I mean, I use social media to recruit people, and I’ve certainly used social media to talk about my research, actually.

And it’s been really, really successful, but that’s where the slightly sort of different age cohort of women. I think what social media has done on the positive side, and I can see lots and lots of negatives, but on the positive side, I think it feeds into what I call this confessional culture.

You know, we live in a culture now where everyone is talking about themselves and other people, everyone is telling this, putting their story out there. And so there, it can contribute to a greater openness about identities, about different ways of living one’s life. And that, that can be a good thing because it, it can broadcast the range of possibilities that there are.

But clearly, the other side of the coin is that it is much more negative and can be incredibly damaging, particularly for younger women, I think. And perhaps also for younger men.

Rebekah: [00:14:23] And as you were speaking, that was making me think of the campaign on Twitter after the Sarah Everard murder with women sharing their experiences of just the things we do by default when we’re walking around, not even necessarily that late at night, but when it’s dark.

And I know I do this, I, I stop and tie my shoelace if there’s somebody very close behind me. And just the things that we all do naturally because we’ve sort of learned to do that, to protect ourselves.

Lynn Abrams: [00:14:49] Yeah, that was it. I mean, that was a very interesting moment for me because of course, we all had that discussion back in the seventies and eighties, I think, and thought, oh, okay, that’s really interesting that we have to have that discussion again, but the discussion was happening in another place, and it was probably a more powerful place actually because more people could engage in that.

Rebekah: [00:15:07] Actually, that’s pretty interesting. It’s making me think of the reclaim the night marches when I was at university, which was very much trying to do, I guess what the Twitter campaign was, was doing it differently. I mean, talking about women or LGBTI, young people and others having a safe space. I mean, one of the things around the pandemic is, and we know it’s not played out equally across society.

And one of the issues that seems to be being raised is whether women are safe in their homes and have been confined to their homes. But you know, how, from your perspective, Lynn has the pandemic impacted gender inequalities? Has it reinforced them, or what opportunities does it provide to reset them if you like?

Lynn Abrams: [00:15:49] So, I guess at the moment, it’s, it’s still quite early to say there’s been lots of anecdotal evidence and a few studies of the impact of the pandemic, particularly on people’s work-life balance on, on gender relations within the home. You mentioned domestic violence. I mean, that has been highlighted.

Clearly, you know, lots of a good number of people are in very difficult situations and in lockdown. I suppose it’s, as I say, it’s still a bit, a little bit early to say. But I think there is an opportunity that people have seen what a different kind of work-life balance can be, and although a lot of families really struggled during the lockdown and particularly because of homeschooling and having to juggle, often in quite cramped spaces, all the demands of work and housework and childcare and pets and elderly parents and the anxiety about the pandemic, which was awful. And we’re still in it, really. At the same time, I think people have begun to identify some different ways of living if they possibly can.

And, people are beginning to make more reasoned choices about whether they go back to the office. For instance, if they work in an office, they can continue to stay at home for a little bit. So there might be, there might be some changes there. I think a lot of it would depend on employers, though, actually, and I suppose employees making those demands of those, of those employers and requiring or asking for that flexibility.

And it would, I mean, I’m quite hopeful about that. I think there could be some really, really interesting changes there, but I’m speaking from a really privileged perspective as a sort of middle-class person in a well-paid job. And I can do it perfectly well from home even though I’m not particularly happy being at home all the time.

But I quite appreciate that large numbers of people are unable to do that and their work takes them out the home and they have to be there. So, you know, there are continued inequalities there and not necessarily based on gender, but based on social class and job family.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:18:06] And we’ve certainly seen that played out in the pandemic; it hasn’t played out equally across society in some groups that have been particularly impacted in particular ways. I mean, I think what will be interesting in terms of that sort of for the people who’ve got the privilege of having the flexibility of being able to work differently is whether that will actually play out differently for men and women.

I’m thinking of, you know, actually how paternity leave is not necessarily being taken up to the same degree that might have been anticipated and whether we might see more men returning to the office and, and fewer women. So I think it’d be really interesting to see how things play out and the role of culture, I guess as well as, as well as what’s offered by employers,

But Ian, what about LGBTI young people? Has homeschooling been a welcome relief, or has it simply resulted in different forms of bullying and isolation?

Ian Rivers: [00:18:56] Oh, that a really challenging question. I think in one respect, it’s the classic thing of it’s too early to tell. Much of the research that has been conducted has been within the third sector, and there are some very, there are some very large studies that indicate that what used to be face-to-face bullying has moved online and that young LGBT people certainly experienced harassment, both from strangers and from people they knew via social media or indeed text or email.

So I think that has just gone on, it’s just simply maybe moved slightly more in one direction than another, but you know, the big worry always with this homeschooling resulting from the pandemic is whether or not young people who have had a very negative, potentially a very negative experience at school, have actually achieved all that they could achieve because we know that, you know, they’ve had reduced hours of teaching. Now, ironically, we know historically that for some young LGBTI people, not going to school was actually beneficial. They studied at home and were successful. So it will be really interesting to see whether or not there is an attainment gap coming through, but I think there’s the research by the TIE campaign on LGBT teenagers during lockdown was particularly useful in just highlighting the fact that bullying didn’t go away.

It very much stayed. Different forms of communication come through, but just as many negative impacts, such as mental health concerns, et cetera. But there was also really a, quite a strong desire to get back to school, to get back to spaces because of course, as we’ve, you know, we’ve been on a journey in Scotland for about 20 years around LGBTI inclusion in education started way back when Jack McConnell was the First Minister.

And I think one of the important things to think about is the fact that we have what are now called gender sexuality alliances, but gay, straight alliances in schools, we have clubs and societies within schools where these young people were supported. And I think it was also very interesting to see how many charities very, very quickly pivoted and successfully to online support rather than face to face.

So it’s a, it’s a mixed bag at the minute, but I think all of the issues around domestic violence, intimate partner violence, still very prevalent within that this particular group. And I think if I remember rightly seeing some data recently that reports had declined during the pandemic, but that does that, but there’s a huge difference between reports and what’s actually going on.

One of the issues that was really, really problematic, particularly down south, was homelessness, young people being confined to what is potentially a hostile home. And you saw particular charities for LGBT youth homelessness reporting a great deal, more demand for their services, particularly for trans youth.

So it’s a very, very mixed bag, but some positives, but also quite a few negatives, particularly where there’s an under-reporting of violence in the home, or indeed an under-reporting of bullying via other media.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:22:51] I mean, clearly there’s a, both in terms of LGBTI young people and in terms of the experience of, of women in certain settings, individual behaviours are important in terms of sort of what we all do as individuals or what we don’t do as individuals as well.

But what do you see as the role of systems and structures in addressing some of the issues faced around equality and diversity? I mean, Ian, you mentioned the TIE campaign. What role do you think the state has in terms of supporting a more equal and diverse educational experience?

Ian Rivers: [00:23:28] Oh, yeah. That is one huge question. In some instances, the state has abrogated responsibility for looking after particular groups within society and referred it to the third or voluntary sector. I get really, really concerned when you see organizations struggling for funding, when they’re actually really doing the work that social work statutory services should be doing.

But I was also very concerned when the UK government decided to disband its advisory group on LGBTI issues this year. You know, and it had been set up by Theresa May. It was there to actually give a, give a sounding board to any policy and legislation coming forward. And it’s just been kicked out under Boris Johnson’s administration.

With no real reason other than, you know, we are, we are hot on equalities; therefore, it’s okay. You know, you can trust us. And I think there’s a lot more trust to be built. And we also see within the LGBT community some infighting, particularly on the issue of trans, and that’s born out of perhaps ill-thought through legislation where the best of intentions were evident, but there needed to be much more consultation, much more thought. And I think, you know, sense and social science have failed on that particular discussion point, which is a real shame because we’re now starting to see groups that have been cohesive pull apart.

And, and really, I do think that the state had an incredibly important role to play here and failed to deliver. But I, you know, I’ll just go back to the fact that we cannot rely on the third sector on year on year funding to deliver statutory services for this particular group in society. Not quite sure I answered your question fully, but, well, it…

Rebekah: [00:25:38] It was a big question is as you say, and, and I think your last point there I think has been echoed in other, in other aspects of services as well, where the third sector is, is playing a really critical role, but it’s sort of living a little bit hand to mouth and from funding year on year. I mean, I wonder, Lynn, in terms of the role of the state and systems and structures, you referred earlier to the sort of intransigent issue, the distribution of care in the home, and sort of the unequal distribution of care. I mean, again, what role do you think the state has in supporting the addressing of that issue?

Lynn Abrams: [00:26:10] Yeah, I was going to echo in really and talk about the aggregation of the state’s responsibility in the care space as we talk about it. I mean, not so much perhaps in respect of childcare, but the care of dependents, care of the elderly, clearly this is, I mean, the pandemic has really made this clearer, much clearer if we needed to know that. I mean, most of us understand that the care crisis is really critical in this country. And the pandemic just intensified that with you know, clearly the issues in care homes, but also very many elderly people who live alone or live-in couples and need quite a lot of input from either their family or from charities third sector and statutory agencies.

Just not getting that during that pandemic because people couldn’t go into their homes. I think this is really critical. We’ve got an epidemic of loneliness amongst elderly people. We’ve got, I think we’ve got real concerns about how a lot of elderly people are being looked after now.

And also, we’ve got inequalities of care in families as mainly women have to step up. You know, into the spaces left by other agencies. So it’s a real, real real, real problem. And the government really needs to get to grips with that. And it doesn’t seem to be doing that at the moment.

Rebekah: [00:27:50] Do you think any particular countries are doing this well, which we can learn from, or is it a sort of wider global issue?

Lynn Abrams: [00:27:58] I think it is a global issue, and this isn’t really my area of expertise. I read the other day that some other European countries have put into place various tax and insurance schemes around elderly care and, so on that, you know, Britain could learn from in Germany I think has done it recently. I mean, you know, there are positives and negatives to learn from other countries experiences. I mean, I know that on the issue of childcare which is still, you know, a kind of live issue in this country, if you look to the Nordic countries and look particularly to Sweden, where there has been a massive input into childcare. Everyone can get childcare if they need it, but the unintended consequences are that women are then expected to work full time. And then also you need a large army of workers in the childcare industry, they tend to be women, and they are still not particularly well paid.

So the issue needs to be seen holistically, and it often isn’t. We often seem to deal with one element of it. Oh, well, we’ll fix the childcare by providing lots of nurseries. But then there are many unintended consequences from that, which skew the situation even further.

And I suppose the same situation arises with elderly care as well. The vast majority of carers in care homes and so on are women on very low pay.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:29:37] And Ian, what about in your area are there other countries you look to sort of rather enviously and think, well, I wish we had that or wish we could do it in that way or, or that we can learn from?

Ian Rivers: [00:29:47] Again, it’s swings and roundabouts, you know, some countries make significant progress then a new administration comes in, and you suddenly see that progress pulled back like Hungary this week. You know, there was. You know, they’ve introduced a version a more strident version of section 28 this week than previously. And there’s been protests in the street. I think almost the Nordic countries have got it, have, tend to have got it right. You know, and occasionally there are some, there are some really great initiatives that come out in the US, but of course, the US is a very, very fractious place, and you know, the slightest change in state legislature and everything will change. So I don’t think there’s anybody, any one country that’s got it absolutely right. It’s a journey, and it’s almost like when you get one step forward, you take two steps back with, with a subsequent government because people have very, very strong issues on the issue of sexuality.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:30:55] I think what you’re both saying is the need for a holistic approach, but also, I guess, a recognition of just the complexity of some of these issues and doing, you know, making one intervention, however well-intentioned might also have some unintended consequences that that really need to be considered. I mean, Lynn as a historian. I know you’ll be interested in sort of what we can learn from history. And is there any particular learning from history you think we should be taking into the future in terms of how we address gender inequalities or inequalities more broadly?

Lynn Abrams: [00:31:28]

Well, not especially, but because we often haven’t done these things very well. And, and as we know, I mean, particularly around if we’re talking about care in particular you know, there is a long history of inequality in care, but I think perhaps what we can take from the past is models where there’s more de-centralised care where care doesn’t always devolve on mothers or daughters, but let’s just put it simply like that, where you have more complex kinship networks and community networks and a variety of different groups who take responsibility for those who need care at different stages of their lives. And I think that’s probably a more sort of helpful devolved system that we might look to rather than always looking to particular individuals or particular agencies to deliver this kind of care.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:32:23] Well, actually that was the, I mean, that’s interesting that it almost seems one of the things that was lost during the pandemic is some of those informal networks where families would have a sort of sharing of child care because a child would be over at such and such’s house for a day, or, and then they’d take another turn another day.

And that was really sort of dented obviously by the inability to connect to other households.

Lynn Abrams: [00:32:44] That’s correct. And, and, and for the elderly too, I think, I mean, it’s the same kind of thing applies, you know, day centres closed down all of those kinds of things, which, which got people out of their homes and gave other people a bit of, a bit of a rest, you know, just disappeared overnight.

And it’s, you know, it’s going to be interesting to see how many of those come back actually. I mean, that’s a big worry, isn’t it? But we are actually losing quite a lot at the moment as organisations find it really difficult to get back on their feet again.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:33:18] And you were nodding there, Ian.

Ian Rivers: [00:33:20] Absolutely.

I mean, you know, anecdotally, when you hear that an elderly person’s first significant social contact has been their vaccination, you think, well, something is very, very wrong in this system. But I was just reflecting upon early years and the fact that we’re still challenged by the fact of, by issues such as peripatetic care and actually being able to have multiple people look after a child, given the current Covid variant that’s out there, and that’s more transmissible.

You know, all of these things have really been thrown into relief by the pandemic. And I do hope that we’re going to learn so many lessons from this and, you know, we’ve got to actually think about what Covid recoveries look like, and we can’t go back to how it was.

And I think the new normal could be exciting. But if everybody’s expecting to go back to the old normal, I think that’s a real problem because we have to really start rebuilding our systems.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:34:29] And certainly the Post Covid Futures Commission that RSE establishes very much in that light. What can we learn for the pandemic to make the future as good as it can be?

And I think actually it has shown it into light relief, actually the importance of some of the things that might not have been seen as so important, like some of these community networks and provisions in supporting connectivity and community. It’s not always big scale interventions, but I’m going to give you a magic wand, both of you.

So if you could each do one thing to address gender inequality or inequality more generally and support diversity in Scotland today, what would that be? And I appreciate it is a challenging question, but it also does allow you to work some magic, Lynn,

Lynn Abrams: [00:35:17] You know, I think I would change work cultures.

I think that’s kind of underpins a lot of problems we’re trying to grapple with at the moment. I mean, we’ve seen just glimpses of that during the pandemic. And so if we look forward, if we can, if we can embrace greater flexibility of working, actually, if we could embrace things like the four day week I think that would be hugely helpful to families who struggle with, you know, two people full-time working or trying to juggle lots of different jobs, as well as childcare and everything else, and having a kind of, you know, reasonable quality of life.

So if we change work cultures, the expectation that a) people are in work five days a week, or actually for many people more than that now, because they have to do so many different jobs; cut back on working hours and celebrate a much better work-life balance for men and women. I think that would really help a lot of the other issues that we’re trying to grapple with around care in, in particular, actually.

Rebekah: [00:36:30] Thank you. And Ian for you?

Ian Rivers: [00:36:33] I think I’m sort of hedging towards the I’d like people not to be gender blind, but gender literate, but also LGBTI literate rather than say that sexuality doesn’t matter. And I think that’s a really, for me, that’s a really important point that I think some of the initiatives that you see around addressing the pay gap, etcetera, are trying to be gender blind.

And saying that actually the fact that it’s a woman or a man going for a job or getting this salary is, is irrelevant. Actually, it’s not; it’s very, very relevant because there may be issues such as, you know, maternity leave, etcetera. So I think gender literacy and LGBTI literacy is really, really the way I’d like to see us go, rather than saying, you know, we’ll try and ignore these things and just say, there’s a human being.

Rebekah Widdowfield: [00:37:28] Thank you very much and Lynn and Ian, thank you so much for taking the time today to share your expertise and talk with me about equality and diversity. Thank you.

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Tea & Talk
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Professor Lynn Abrams FRSE
Professor Ian Rivers FRSE
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