This chapter continues to present material about our participants’ lives, drawing on their own narrative accounts. In it we focus on the practices and structures that serve to exclude women both in their workplaces and sometimes within their trade unions. But we shall also be looking at the ways in which the unions have opened doors for women and offered them opportunities to exercise their talents in a way that allows them to gain confidence and standing within their organisations. The message here is that, despite some inadequacies, unions have a most important role in helping women confront racism and sexism at work. In particular through the SOGs and black networks they have opened up spaces for BME women to help them fulfil what Julia Sudbury (1998) has called ‘other kinds of dreams’. Despite the problems with SOGs which we discussed in Chapter 6, we consider these types of organisation are absolutely crucial mechanisms of inclusion and would argue strongly for their continuation.
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