As always, this budget statement didn’t acknowledge the existence of women in economic life, or the possibility that workplace policy may affect women differently to men. In the news that some of the revenue raised when women buy ‘sanitary items’ will be ‘donated’ to women’s charities, is an acknowledgement that an existing tax is unjust and unethical. Beyond this, however, the gender pay gap remains a non-policy issue for the Chancellor, the lack of equal representation on executive boards remains unacknowledged and unaddressed, and the differential effects of minimum wage levels or skills development policies continue to be ignored.
Perhaps, despite the UK’s second female Prime Minister being in post, this is an effect of the lack of equality in political life more broadly. A comparison with Scotland is, as so often, insightful. Currently, all three main parties there have women leaders in post and the Scottish Parliament is better than in Westminster, although at 35% there is still work to be done. However, culturally, Scotland fairs better than the UK, as new research comparing the two is starting to show.