Although the new equalities bill has received criticism due to concerns over positive discrimination, legislation is required to raise the profile of sexual discrimination, an expert has said.

According to Karen Gill, founder of business website everywoman, something needs to be done in order to redress the imbalance of females in the workplace because in some ways the situation is "regressing".

She stated: "There needs to be legislation. There needed to be the Equal Opportunities Act 30 years ago. It needs to be on the agenda and legislation helps that, it puts it on the agenda."

Ms Gill added that new laws raise the topic as a matter for debate, which is a good thing.

According to figures cited by the BBC, for every pound a man earns, a woman earns 87 pence, while female part-time employees still earn as much as 40 per cent less than their male full-time counterparts.