London, Sept.4 : Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission has claimed that the country's working women have hit the proverbial'concrete ceiling' of discrimination, as far getting the top jobs is concerned.
According to the equality watchdog, there are now fewer female MPs, police chiefs and senior judges than there were a year ago.
The Telegraph says that it marks the first time that the number of women in senior roles has dropped in the five years.
The irony is that Iraq and Afghanistan have more female politicians than Britain does and at the current rate of progress it will take 200 years for women to achieve equality in the so-called Mother of Parliaments, the paper quotes the report as saying.
The watchdog claims its figures show that although women are becoming better educated and keen to forge careers, too many people still believe that their place is in the home and that men should hold the leadership positions.
It accuses employers of putting up barriers to prevent women taking senior roles, by refusing to let them work hours that allow them to combine a decent job and a family.
Employers pointed out that the lack of women in senior jobs could be because they often take lengthy career breaks to raise families while their male counterparts are gaining greater experience.
A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses said: "Companies do need continuity and career breaks wherever they happen are frowned upon in CVs. Where there is a break that does disadvantage women but it's a natural phenomenon for companies to go to the person who has had an unbroken career path."
The commission's annual Sex and Power report discloses that women now make up almost half of the British workforce, with 14.3million working females compared with 16.9m men.
However it shows that women are nowhere near becoming equally represented in the highest ranks of any profession or industry.
The report says 85 per cent of working women have full-time jobs before they have babies, but this falls to just 34 per cent of those with pre-school children.
Ministers have tried to make it easier for mothers to return to their jobs, by increasing maternity leave entitlements and by giving parents the right to demand flexible working.
But the commission says discrimination and stereotypes persist in the workplace and blame a "rigid, inflexible" approach to work by employers for stopping women rising through the ranks.