Survey highlights bias and discrimination about young women

A new survey by the Young Women’s Trust finds 15% of HR managers think men are more suited to senior jobs than women.

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Bias still seems entrenched in some sectors of the HR world, according to a new survey which finds 15% of HR managers felt that men are better suited to senior management jobs than women and 19% said that they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought might go on to start a family, compared to 13% who said the same for a man.

The annual survey of nearly 1,000 HR decision makers by the Young Women’s Trust also found that over a third were aware of instances of young women being discriminated against in the past year. The same number agreed that sexist behaviour still exists within their organisation and 28% agreed that it is harder for women to progress in their organisation than men.

The survey also polled 4,000 young women and 1,000 young men and found increasing numbers of young women are being discriminated against at work, with half saying that they had faced some sort of discrimination, compared to just over two fifths last year. Almost a quarter of young women said that they are being paid less than their male peers even for the same work, despite this being illegal. They also said that, when instances of discrimination do occur, they feel less able to challenge or report it (25%) compared to young men (17%).

The survey also showed the progression and job security is a big cause of concern:
– Almost half of young women are worried about not having enough opportunities to progress (49%) – a small increase on last year (47%).
– Over a third (36%) of young women are worried about job security, up from 33% last year. Young women are more likely than young men to have been offered a zero hours contract – 42% compared to 33%, according to the survey.

Low pay is a huge worry for young women with over half (56%) of young women saying their financial situation was uncomfortable compared to 40% of young men. Over half (55%) of young women are worried about how much their job pays, while almost a quarter (23%) have been paid less than the minimum wage they were entitled to, compared to 20% of young men.

Racially minoritised young women face discrimination on multiple levels, and as a result are much more likely to be worried about how much their job pays (60% compared to an average of 55%), job security (46% compared to 36% on average) and lacking opportunities to progress (57% compared to 49%).

The charity has worked with young women to create a manifesto for an equal world of work, and is calling for government and employers to step in and make changes that will level  the playing field by:

– Ensuring fair and equal pay with salary transparency; action to tackle pay gaps; and a fairer labour market which values the work that typically women choose to do.
– Removing unfair barriers to work with more flexible working; inclusive recruitment processes; improved benefits and employment support; and a childcare system that works.
– Supporting young women to progress with clear pathways and internal schemes and training.
– Offering better job security with a limit on zero hours contracts and a right to predictable hours.
– Ending discrimination through better reporting processes, more accountability for employers and improved support for people experiencing discrimination.

Claire Reindorp, Chief Executive at Young Women’s Trust said: “We know it’s hard for young women to get the jobs that they want because of barriers such as a lack of flexible working and affordable childcare, but then when they do enter the workplace, discrimination and a lack of support to progress creates this broken rung on the career ladder. It’s a travesty that in 2023 young women still aren’t being given the same chances in life as young men.

“There’s so much more than politicians and employers can do to make a difference and – and much of it is not that hard. Let’s stop living in the dark ages and realise the true potential that young women can bring to society and our economy. We’ve got an entire workforce’s talents that could be unlocked.”

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