Muslim girls are forging ahead at school but hit a brick wall of discrimination when they enter the workplace, the Equal Opportunities Commission says today in a report on its two-year investigation of the experiences of women from ethnic minority communities across Britain.
See also Laura Smith’s article in the same issue:
Mandy, 29 and from a Bangladeshi Muslim background, spent five years at a media company but left when it became obvious there was no career progression for her there. “Because I am a short, brown woman, my supervisor told me the clients wouldn’t take me seriously,” she says. “I would prepare the presentations but I would never give them. I was the back-office person unless it was convenient for them to use me.” After trying for several years to get a job in the cultural sector, she won a position at an arts organisation. But there the situation was even worse. “In the first week I was wearing my shalwar kameez with a shawl,” she says. “The manager said, ‘You look like a Taliban terrorist.’ I asked him why he said that and he told me we Muslims were too sensitive and needed to lighten up. I was the only Muslim woman. There was a culture of ignoring it so everyone became complicit in the treatment.”