The number of working women with a child under the age of five has nearly doubled in 25 years.
Latest Government figures show that in 1973 only 27 per cent of mothers in this category worked. By 1998 that figure had risen to 55 per cent. Among highly qualified mothers the proportion is 75 per cent.
Women and Men in the UK: Facts and Figures 2000, published by the Government’s Women’s Unit, also found that educational achievement rather than marital status is now the main factor in whether a woman works or not.
The proportion of women achieving two or more A-levels or the equivalent has doubled since the mid 1970s to 25 per cent in 1997/98.
But while there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women in work, the study found inequalities persist.
It found that women with postgraduate qualifications are still less likely than similarly qualified men to get top level jobs as managers or administrators. And the study showed women still tend to be concentrated in low-paid sectors such as cleaning and catering.