Women, Work and the State: UWE professor to tackle gender challenge in inaugural lecture

Issue date: 30 November 2015

Hazel Conley

The role the state plays in gender equality during an age of austerity will be the focus of an inaugural lecture to be delivered at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

Professor Hazel Conley will examine how the Government's drive to create a “small state” affects women and their work aspirations at the event on Wednesday (December 2).

During the lecture, Public Issues and Private Troubles: Women, Work and the State, the human resource management expert from UWE's Faculty of Business and Law will argue that the popular economic justifications for shrinking the state made by politicians are particularly damaging to women.

Professor Conley contends that women's ability to enter the labour market or public life often depends on a state willing to “'interfere' in unequal gendered social relations”.

The researcher and author said: “There is, hovering always in the background, an economic justification that big state equals big public spending and big taxation with the assumption that paying as little tax as is legally possible is what will make people happy.

“These arguments have gained ground in justifying austerity policies that are the neo-liberal political response to economic crisis. They are inimical to the concept of a welfare state and are particularly damaging for women.”

Professor Conley joined UWE earlier this year from Queen Mary University of London where she was a Reader in Human Resource Management. She is the co-author, with Dr Margaret Page, of Gender Equality in Public Services: Chasing the Dreampublished by Routledge.

Much of Professor Conley's work has focused on the state as employer and legislator. Most recently it has centred more directly on discrimination and inequality in the workplace, particularly in relation to the development and effectiveness of legal interventions.

The address, which is free to attend, will take place in lecture theatre 2B025 from 6pm. Register for the event here.

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