Fathers in London's bank district urged to test sex bias to help daughters

by Anna Pujol-Mazzini | @annapmzn | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 13 March 2017 15:03 GMT

Workers cross Westminster Bridge during the morning rush hour in London in Britain, November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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Online test aims to reveal any unconscious bias in men who might otherwise express support for equality at work

By Anna Pujol-Mazzini

LONDON, March 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Fathers working in the City of London, the capital's financial district, were urged on Monday to take a gender bias test to see if they are really helping to make workplaces welcoming for their daughters.

The initiative is part of a Dads4Daughters campaign launched by the prestigious fee-paying all-girls school St Paul's which made headlines last month for allowing its students to use boys' names and wear boys' clothes.

The online test, that aims to reveal any unconscious bias in men who might otherwise express support for equality at work, was designed after a Girls' Schools Association survey found 71 percent of alumni experienced or saw gender inequality at work.

Clarissa Farr, headmistress at St Paul's school in west London, said when men became fathers of daughters, many reported that their perspective on gender equality dramatically changed.

"They also become acutely aware of the challenges of achieving a work-life balance both for themselves and the women around them," Farr said in a statement.

"We hope that with the help of fathers, women will enjoy workplaces free from bias, pay inequality and glass ceilings."

Figures from the UK's Office of National Statistics show on average women earned 18 percent less than men in 2016.

British women also expected lower wages and tended to push less for pay rises, slowing progress to close the gender pay gap, research showed last week.

The test was set up ahead of Dads4Daughters Day on March 15 that was launched last year by St Paul's and is being supported by about 50 schools across Britain.

"You might express the view that women are just as capable as men in the workplace, but subconsciously you might feel more comfortable having a male boss," the website explained.

The campaign has received backing from majors financial services firms such as insurer Aviva, bank UBS and accounting firm Ernst & Young.

"I want my kids to grow up in a world where the limits to what they achieve are not set down by what gender they are," said Will McDonald, chairman of the Fatherhood Institute and a director at Aviva.

"But to see real change, we need to harness the power of dads at work. After all, dads don't stop being dads when they walk through the office door." (Reporting by Anna Pujol-Mazzini @annapmzn, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)