The UK`s Equal Opportunities Commission, which is to be subsumed on 1st October into a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, has got its retaliation in early by releasing a report, The Gender Agenda, which shows how far from complete its task is.

The report itself is full of Roy Lichenstein inspired graphics (which of course means that it takes an age to download). But the inspired part of the document is a section on ‘Leading Indicators’ (opens as pdf) which shows how long it will take to achieve equality, under a range of headings, if present trends continue. On some, men/boys are behind women/girls. A few seem almost in reach – the 15 years it could take for boys to catch up with girls’ GCSE results or there to be one childcare place for every child under eight.

There’s a slew of ‘never – unless action is stepped up’ – notably in ‘family’ and ‘justice and safety’ (one of these , notably, is about women’s fear of going out after dark). It’s also striking how many still have ‘insufficient data’; given that sexual equality has been a visible policy issue for thirty years now, we should have worked out how to measure issues which are thought to be significant.

The two indicators which got the headlines, at least where I looked, were those for equality of women in the House of Commons and as FTSE-100 company directors: the latter is claimed as being a mere 65 years away, the former is still, apparently, 195 years away. This is slightly puzzling, and may indeed be for the purposes of gaining headlines, since both are described as ‘improving’, and women represent 20% of MPs and only 10% of FTSE-100 company directors. (And even more puzzling: only 9% of high court judges are women, but here the position is improving so rapidly that equality will be acheived in 60 years).

But the fact that I’m writing about it shows what an effective highlighting tool it is.