Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss said macho culture in the City might be putting women off top roles and called for a shake-up.
She spoke to The Yorkshire Post after another week of headlines on the gender pay gap, with the revelation that the star of hit TV show The Crown, Claire Foy, was paid less for playing the Queen than co-star Matt Smith for portraying the Duke of Edinburgh.
It also emerged that ITN’s gender pay gap was nearly double that of the BBC’s, prompting Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman to say it showed “just how pervasive inequality is”.
Ms Truss, who considers herself a Yorkshirewoman having attended Roundhay School in Leeds, said there “clearly are problems with gender pay discrimination”.
The UK is also “not good enough as a country” at getting women back into work after time out to care for children.
And there is “an issue” over the jobs and qualifications women and girls choose to do, Ms Truss said.
“I do feel that often women are sort of brought up to be a bit squeamish about money, and there are very few women it feels like (in) economics and finance and actually they are incredibly important,” she said.
“And when you have power over your own money you have got control over your own life and I think we need to tell girls that.”
Ms Truss pointed out the fact that “in the dim and distant past” women were not allowed to own property and that independent taxation for married women was only introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1988.
She added: “This has got a long-running history and I think that girls, for whatever (reason get) messages, there’s a bit of a drip, drip, drip in society, get the message that maybe things like maths or economics and finance aren’t for them, the City is seen as very male dominated, and we need to change that culture and shake-up that culture.”
Yorkshire businesswoman Jillian Thomas, who runs Future Life Wealth Management in Sheffield, backed Ms Truss.
“I absolutely agree with her that ladies, females, seem to be submissive to men who look after the finances,” she said.
She revealed her own horror story when she was working in her first financial job in Harrogate after leaving home.
“I wanted to get a mortgage in a building society in Harrogate and they told me that because I wasn’t married my father had to counter-sign my application form, so as a women I wasn’t allowed to have a mortgage without a man counter-signing it.
“That was in my lifetime, and I told them to sling their hook and I went to the building society next door and asked them and I got it without having to be countersigned.”
Meanwhile, Ms Truss urged Conservative MPs to be more “out there” on social media after being trounced online by Labour at the 2017 election.
The Minister, who has gone from being the subject of mocking online posts about her infamous “pork products” conference speech to a social media darling, said voters are sick of politicians “spouting the same message”.
“The way we are going to win the next election, which I absolutely think we can and should do, is by talking about what we believe and being honest about what we think, and being prepared to be ‘out there’,” she said.