SCOTLAND still has a mountain to climb to tackle gender inequality, despite having a female First Minister, Labour leadership contender Kezia Dugdale has said.
Ms Dugdale spoke out as she visited a chemistry laboratory in Edinburgh to find out more about the shortage of women working in science and technology.
Margaret Thatcher proved that having a woman in the top job doesn’t make a blind bit of difference if her priorities are all wrong”Kezia Dugdale
Across the UK just 16 per cent of professors in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects are female.
Meanwhile in Scotland women account for only 5 per cent of engineering students at colleges, and 14 per cent at universities.
Ms Dugdale said: “The fact that we have a female First Minister is a great thing. It fills me with pride that young girls in Scotland are growing up in a world where we have a woman in Bute House.
“But a female First Minister isn’t enough. Margaret Thatcher proved that having a woman in the top job doesn’t make a blind bit of difference if her priorities are all wrong.
“Only when it’s not considered newsworthy to have a female Chief Constable or a Lady President of the Court of Session will we have achieved lasting change.
“Progress has been made, but let’s not kid ourselves about the mountain we still have to climb.”
Ms Dugdale, the favourite to be the next Scottish Labour leader, stated: “We need to help women reach the top in every walk of life. In education and the arts; science and business; politics and the law.
“Let’s be ambitious for Scotland’s women, not settle for second best.
“Too many young women are put off studying science and maths, engineering and technology subjects at college or university.
“Even today in the 21st century these are viewed by some as subjects only for men. That locks half the population out of so many key jobs of the future. That’s bad for women but it’s also bad for our economy.
“We need a culture change in our education system. It has to become the norm for girls and young women to study science and maths.
“We need the schoolgirls of the future to see engineers and technicians on their TV screens and for at least some of them to be women.”
Ms Dugdale is standing against Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh to become the next Scottish Labour leader.
The contest was sparked after Jim Murphy stood down in the wake of the party’s disastrous general election result, which saw Labour lose all but one of its Scottish MPs.