Over half of women teachers say they feel generally or very pessimistic about their future in the teaching profession, a women's conference organised by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has heard.

Gender inequality, combined with crushing workloads and attacks on their pay and working conditions, are threatening to drive women out of the profession.

Hundreds of women teachers from across the country gathered in Birmingham today for the NASUWT’s annual Women Teachers’ Consultation Conference to discuss the challenges they face and to attend a series of professional development workshops.

A real-time electronic poll of attendees at the Conference found that:

· Over half (55%) say they feel generally or very pessimistic about their future in the teaching profession;

· Two thirds say their mental and physical health is being damaged by their workload;

· Three quarters say they do not have a reasonable work/life balance;

· Pressures of the job and workload are the biggest factor that would impact on their decisions to remain in the profession in five years’ time;

· More than a fifth (21%) said their most important priority in their career right now is to leave teaching;

· Over half (52%) say they feel angry about what has happened to their pay over the last few years and 55% think the prospects for their pay are likely to worsen;

· More than a third (36%) say they’ve been treated less favourably at work in the last year because they are a woman.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Women make up the majority of the teaching profession, yet it is clear that too many are still facing unacceptable barriers and inequality in terms of their careers and professionalism.

“Women teachers have expressed their deep anger at the way in which they have been treated over recent years and about the successive attacks on their pay, working conditions and job security.

“This inequality is being exacerbated by a raft of Government policies which have undermined equality protections for workers and left teachers at the mercy of unacceptable practices by employers.

“All of the evidence shows that the greater the managerial discretion the greater the potential for discrimination and this is borne out by the number of women reporting they have been refused pay progression because they have been on maternity leave or are working part time.

“Excessive workload and attacks on teachers’ working conditions are having a profoundly negative effect on women teachers’ mental and physical health and wellbeing and undermining the quality of education for children and young people.

“The number of women saying they feel pessimistic about their future in the profession and the number saying their priority is to leave teaching must give employers and Government pause for thought about the urgency of the need to create a teaching profession which genuinely values and supports all women teachers.

“It is not overstating the point to say that the future of the teaching profession depends on it.”

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