Women experience barriers to career progression

More than a third of women have experienced barriers to advancement during their career, although half say they are advancing their careers on a par with men despite this, according to research by recruiter Robert Half UK.

More than a third of women have experienced barriers to advancement during their career, although half say they are advancing their careers on a par with men despite this, according to research by recruiter Robert Half UK.  

Of those women who have experienced inequality at work, over a third say they believe male colleagues at the same level earn more than they do.  Thirty one per cent indicate they are assigned work that is below their level and are therefore unable to demonstrate their abilities, while almost one in five (19%) say that junior colleagues don’t take instructions from them, but will do from male colleagues of equal seniority.

Across the wider business community,  two thirds of both male and female employees believe women experience barriers in their careers yet there is big disparity between the genders, with 57% of men and 75% of women believing that a glass ceiling exists for women. The greatest proportion of those who perceive there to be a glass ceiling come from the Yorkshire & Humber (73%) and London (72%) regions, and the lowest come from Wales and the West Midlands (58% each).  

Nearly three quarters of UK employees surveyed believe that the societal perception of a woman’s role and / or career path is a major factor in creating a glass ceiling. 

Other top causes of inequality of work for women reported by both male and female employees are due to: managerial style (29%); lack of workplace visibility – i.e too modest about successes/achievements – (24%); and a lack of confidence within the business (22%). Regionally, the North East is leading the way on societal perception – only 46% feel this effects their career compared to 85% in Wales and 78% in the South West.

In a bid to alleviate this gap in the workplace,  nearly half of employees think companies should provide flexible working opportunities, identified by 39% of males and 48% of females. A further 43% want UK organisations to review pay grades, with 23% looking for workshops such as within management training and confidence building (23%). 

Estelle James, Director, Robert Half UK said: “While business leaders are taking steps to level the playing field between men and women in the workplace, our research shows that these inroads are not being felt by the employees themselves. Businesses need to eradicate the ‘old boys club’ mentality and allocate adequate resources to ensure that the glass ceiling becomes the glass elevator. Offering the right career pathing and development opportunities coupled with more flexible working options will result in a larger pool of women ready to take their rightful seat at the boardroom table.

“We’ve had 110 years celebrating International Women’s Day, yet there is more work to be done. Respect, equality and fairness need to be embraced by all, as in the end, it’s about the skills one brings to the workplace, not their gender.”





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