Maternity rights 'entrench' roles, says equality tsar
AN EQUALITIES tsar provoked controversy yesterday when she suggested women's careers were being damaged because maternity rights "entrenched" stereotypes about mothers caring while men worked.
Nicola Brewer, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said current rights appeared to support the idea fathers were "optional seasoning" in children's lives, while mothers were the main carers.
The division between maternity and paternity leave could be entrenching the view that women were the ones who had to pay the career price of motherhood, she said.
Ms Brewer argued that not allowing fathers high-quality rights presented an "inconvenient truth", supporting the assumption that women will look after children while fathers work.
The Conservative Party and the women's campaign group the Fawcett Society supported Ms Brewer's comments, but union officials accused her of "missing the point".
Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: "The idea that extending family-friendly rights would somehow hurt women's job prospects is a myth commonly peddled by employers who don't want to employ women of child-bearing age or give male staff time off to spend with their children."
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