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Sam Smethers

Chief Executive, Fawcett Society

Chief Executive, Fawcett Society

Gender Pay Gap Groundhog Day

Look beneath the headline averages and there are also some further worrying numbers. For example, the gap for women in their 20s and 30s seems to be widening, not narrowing. So what is going on? It is difficult to say just by looking at the figures.
27/10/2017 10:13 BST

We Must Use The Millicent Fawcett Statue To Transform Women's Lives

Millicent's approach was to use peaceful methods to campaign. She gathered petition signatures, wrote endless letters, spoke at hundreds of public meetings, brought the regional organisations together into what became the National Union for Women's Suffrage Societies and eventually led a movement of 100,000 people. She had been doing this since the age of 19 in 1866 when she collected signatures on a petition she was too young to sign herself. She had over 30 years of campaigning under her belt before Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).
21/09/2017 17:55 BST

Why Is Twitter Still Failing Women?

There are over 6,000 tweets per second. What kind of self-regulated reporting system is going to be able to deal with that? But deal with it, it must. Because otherwise the haters win and women are crowded out of online spaces. Yvette Cooper MP, who founded the Reclaim the Internet campaign, and I have written to Twitter asking a series of questions, challenging them on the resources allocated to address online abuse and harassment and demanding a 24-hour turnaround time in response to reported cases. Unreasonable? Not when you consider that a tweet is instantaneous, within seconds it can be retweeted thousands of times, in minutes it can go viral. 24 hours is almost too long.
22/08/2017 08:22 BST

Does Local Government Work For Women?

Despite the fact that 78% of council employees are women and they are also the majority of services users, just 33% of councillors are women, statistics that have barely shifted in decades. But in addition to that we found that one in three women councillors have experienced sexism from council colleagues, one in 10 have been sexually harassed. 46% of women vs 35% of men had experienced harassment or abuse from the electorate.
13/07/2017 13:20 BST

Abortion Rights And Wrongs: Women's Rights Must Not Be Used As A Bargaining Chip With The DUP

Fundamentally, we want a categorical assurance from the Government that women's rights will not be used as a bargaining chip with the DUP. The UK is a fundamentally pro-choice society. We expect our Westminster Government to defend and reflect that. The DUP do not, yet they hold the balance of power in this new arrangement. But more than that, it is time for women in Northern Ireland to have their human rights respected in the same way as women in the rest of the UK. Now that is a Union worth defending.
13/06/2017 15:35 BST

We Have More Women In Westminster Than Ever - But Progress Is Still Far Too Slow

So we have made some modest progress up from 30% to 32% women MPs and have broken through the 200 barrier, which at first glance, feels significant. But hang on a minute: at current rates of progress it will take another 45 years to achieve 50:50 representation. I don't know about you, but I feel a bit like a broken record with this issue, repeatedly saying we need to speed up the pace of change.
09/06/2017 15:11 BST

Our Political System Remains Pale, Male And Definitely Stale

This is a time when we are driving more spending and decision making down to local level. Yet the evidence we have uncovered reveals an outdated culture which is holding local government back. It is ripe for change. In the summer our commission's final report will make recommendations to the political parties, councils, and central government so that we can begin to change the face of local politics.
26/04/2017 17:02 BST

Hostility, Complacency And Blame Culture Against Women

The figure of Trump looms large over all of us as we prepare to March on London on Saturday. But new data revealed by the Fawcett Society today shows just how hostile our own society is towards women. It seems we have a few Trumps of our own.
20/01/2017 10:43 GMT

The Gender Pay Gap Doesn't Age Well

New gender pay gap reporting requirements will at least require large employers to take the first step and publish their gender pay gap. But until we tackle each of the causes the pay gap will be with us for generations to come. Millennial women will be old hands at it by then it seem.
04/01/2017 17:13 GMT

Fawcett Awards Medals For Worst Offenders In The #SexistOlympics

Perhaps by the time Tokyo 2020 rolls around, we will begin to see female athletes' and commentators sporting abilities and talents the primary focus of media attention. We have also seen women across the world achieving some remarkable things and being duly credited for them. However, despite 39% of team GB medal-winners being women, it is still an arena in which women are treated as second-class competitors.
24/08/2016 09:47 BST

There Is Something Rotten In... The State of Our Politics

In all the feeding frenzy that characterises our political media and reporting I think we also have to take a moment to reflect on what the recent campaigns tell us about the state of our politics and in particular the way we still treat our female politicians.
11/07/2016 16:30 BST

Motherhood Penalty Now Writ Large

The bigger return for employers and for the UK economy is clear with £600 billion being added to the value of the economy if we close the gender pay gap. We have the best educated, best qualified female labour force we have ever had. And yet we are wasting that talent and investment as a result of poor, shortsighted (and sometimes illegal) practice. Definitely time for a game-changer. Let's hope the Government rises to the challenge.
22/03/2016 13:58 GMT