There are 5,400 women missing from Britain's most powerful jobs. They should be in parliament, in the cabinet, and running big companies and major public sector organisations. At the current rate of progress, it will be another 70 years before there is equal representation of women in parliament and on the boards of FTSE 100 companies. Gender equality makes periodic leaps forward and then slows to a glacial pace for a few decades; it sprints in some areas and remains stubbornly stuck in others.
Now we are fast moving into a strange paradox in which the numbers of women overtake men in entering further education and many professions – women are set to make up a majority of doctors by 2017 – but men still overtake them to reach the top. It's a rum state of affairs when the most powerful are selected from an ever smaller section of the workforce, leaving to waste the huge investment in women's skills.
paradox n. 悖论；似是而非的人或事
overtake v. 赶上；压倒；超过
be set to 被设为；已成定势
Time for a reckoning. It's roughly my generation that is failing to break through into the top jobs. Women in their 40s and 50s who could now be running the country but aren't, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's report Sex and Power. Its analysis is that it's a case of discrimination – direct and indirect. Motherhood and domestic responsibilities still exact a steep penalty. I feel like I'm back on the school hockey pitch (I was useless) with my PE teacher urging me to make a bit more of an effort and get stuck in.
break through 突破；突围；冲出
get stuck in 陷入了；被困在……
Well, before we creep off the pitch with a chronic sense of failure, it's cheering to remember what this generation has achieved. Twenty five years ago, part-time work in professional occupations was virtually unheard of. There was only one model of female career success, and it consciously aimed to emulate a driven, obsessive male version – it was the era of shoulder pads and cliches of ball-crunching women bosses.
creep off 爬出来
emulate v. 效法，尽力赶上；仿真
Since then, the workplace has been revolutionised with a huge increase in the number of women working part-time. Working mothers are no longer a novelty, and fathering no longer part of a hidden private life. In most offices, slipping the Christmas nativity play or a teacher meeting into a busy day is routine. The importance of family life, and the necessity of flexibility for childcare have become part of office culture. Women bosses have escaped ludicrous stereotypes to become normal. That's quite an achievement – something I never dreamed would be possible when I had my first child and was back at the desk full-time within four months of her birth. Now I look at colleagues routinely taking a year's maternity leave and returning part-time.
maternity leave 产假
But it's two steps forward, one step back. The labour market has segregated into one for mums and one for serious players. Mums look for cosy niches – jobs they can manage without too much strain on the family, for which they still take the bulk of responsibility. When men take on the primary-carer role and go part-time, it can play a crucial role in helping women to reach the top – but change here inches forward. The gender roles around caring and breadwinning have proved resistant to change.
segregate v. 使隔离；使分离
resistant adj. 抵抗的；顽固的
Perhaps we should be less surprised – or frustrated – that this kind of social change can take time. We have been a transitional generation, trying to live up to our stay-at-home mothers' standards of availability and attention while also carving out careers. Equally, men have sought to emulate their fathers' career dedication while responding to new expectations of engaged parenting. It's hardly surprising the concept of "role strain" litters the research studies.
live up to 不辜负；做到；实践
carve out 创业；开拓
seek(过去分词sought) to 追求；争取
respond to 响应；对……反应
It's not just the infamous "homemade" mince pies for the school fete (bought and bashed about with a rolling pin at midnight to look homemade) in Allison Pearson's novel I Don't Know How She Does It, but now new communication technologies require instantaneous multi-tasking – a child texting that they are locked out/been mugged/hungry as you sit in an important meeting. Or the reverse, at home and caught between the demands of a BlackBerry and a toddler. The complete separation of personal and professional life, a hallmark of 20th-century careers, has imploded, bequeathing us with a complex juggling act. Not only is it exhausting, but it can simply do your head in.
instantaneous adj. 瞬间的；即时的
bequeath v. 遗赠；把…遗赠给；把…传下去
juggling act 变戏法似的把戏；同时做几件事又难以做好的局面
Some men and women enjoy juggling and get very good at it, but it requires ferocious organisation, focus and energy. Lots don't have them, or don't even want them. I know many women my age who could be among those "missing" at the top; instead of becoming chief executives they've worked out a combination of family and work that leaves time for friends, hobbies, voluntary work and exercise. Its priorities map well on to the research literature on happiness; an aspect that perhaps doesn't get the acknowledgement it deserves.
ferocious adj. 惊人的；极度的
Ambition has proved hard to combine with the mundane requirements of secure nurturing. The cost is obvious; they don't get the power or conventional measures of professional success. It's not letting the sisterhood down but holding on to values of relationships and wellbeing. We're delighted to see others forging ahead and crashing through the prejudices, but we shiver at the price it might exact in our own lives.
mundane adj. 世俗的；平凡的
conventional adj. 常见的；符合世俗的；惯例的
hold on to 坚持；紧握；克制
forge ahead 继续进行；取得进展
crash through 撞毁；推翻
1. Why women are failing to break through into the top jobs accroding to the report?
2. What's the meaning of the words "we shiver at the price it might exact in our own lives"?
1. Direct and indirect discrimination results in women's failing to break through into the top jobs. Motherhood and domestic responsibilities still exact a steep penalty.
2. Women do a lot to hold on to values of relationships and wellbeing, while some still work hard to get rid of the prejudices, which is admiring according to the author.
Passage Twenty-five (Exploration of the Titanic) After resting on the ocean floor, split asunder and rusting, for nearly three-quarters of a century, a great ship seemed to
Passage Twenty-seven (Analysis and Interpretation of the News) The newspaper must provide for the reader the facts, unalloyed, unslanted, objectively selected facts. But in