Latest Research: Worst-Case Scenario

How racism in the criminal justice system harms women’s chances of finding work

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Working Chance has launched our latest research, Worst-Case Scenario: How racism in the criminal justice system harms women’s chances of finding work.

Based on new analysis and the lived experiences of women in the criminal justice system, this research paper highlights the barriers faced by racially minoritised women with criminal convictions when they look for jobs. While there is plenty of excellent research on racial inequality within the criminal justice system, this report examines the knock-on effect this has on employment for racially minoritised women, who face multiple intersecting disadvantages. It also provides recommendations for the government and employers to combat employment discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and criminal record.

THE INTERSECTIONS OF MY IDENTITY, MY ETHNICITY, MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, DEBT, LOW INCOME, THE AREA I LIVE IN - IT ALL COLLIDES AND MAKES THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO.

Cheryl Working Chance client
Key Findings

Worst-Case Scenario

  • Racially minoritised women are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and in our client base. Of the women we support, 62% come from an ethnic minority background.
  • Women of colour are more likely to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced to harsher punishments, ending up with criminal records that last longer, compared to white women.
  • A criminal record is a significant barrier to employment. Criminal records checks disproportionately affect women in general, and especially women of colour who are more likely to end up with a criminal record.
  • In addition to employment discrimination, we also identified gendered and cultural barriers for racially minoritised women when seeking work, including social stigma and child-care and custody issues.
  • When they do find work, racially minoritised women face barriers to career progression, volunteering, and apprenticeships, trapping many in underpaid and precarious jobs.

Explore our findings in full by downloading Worst-Case Scenario: How racism in the criminal justice system harms women’s chances of finding work below. If you have any questions about our research or methodology, or would like to collaborate, please contact media@workingchance.org.

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