Lack of flexible working stunts women’s career aspirations, says study

Women at organisations which offer flexible working are 30% more likely to aspire to high-level positions than those at organisations which do not offer flexible working, according to a study by Catalyst, a non-profit organisation which aims to expand opportunities for women in business.

The study, The great debate: flexible working vs face time, found 83% of women with access to flexible working aspired to the senior management level versus just 54% of women without access to flexible working. Women were also twice as likely to ‘dial down’ their career aspirations if flexible working was not available. This did not apply to men.

The study of 844 employees also found flexible working has become the norm with 81% of organisations offering it.

It also found that at every leadership level, at least half of high potential employees reported that flexible working arrangements were very or extremely important.

There was no significant difference in perceived importance of flexible working options between people with children living at home and those without children living at home. However, women were almost 1.5 times as likely as men to report that flexible working arrangements are very or extremely important. Among those with partners who work full time, women were significantly more likely to report that flexible working is very or extremely important.

There was no difference in the extent to which women and men use flexible working throughout their careers. However, women (39%) were more likely than men (29%) to report using telecommuting frequently, very frequently, or always over the course of their careers. Men were almost twice as likely to report that they have never telecommuted over the course of their careers.

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