Employers might need to address gender equality in the workplace issues after the extent to which the glass ceiling prevents women from moving up was revealed.

MPs in Scotland were told teaching, the legal sector and the police force are among the areas where women find it hard to break into the most senior roles.

While 30 per cent of police officers are now women, it was noted that the vast majority are at “lower levels” and there is only a small female presence at the top of the country’s force.

Solicitor Joyce Cullen of the Law Society of Scotland pointed out that while there has been an “incredible” rise in the number of women entering the profession in recent years, most of the best-paid jobs in the industry are still held by men.

She stated women now make up 60 per cent of graduates coming into the legal field, but many are finding it hard to move up the ladder, reports the Scotsman.

An absence of flexible working arrangements for mothers to deal with childcare was named among the reasons women face a glass ceiling, as well as the old-fashioned attitudes held by some middle managers.

Many women teachers are put off from aiming to become headteachers because they are worried the high workload would make having a home life impossible, it was claimed.

But according to Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, women themselves can take action to improve their chances of breaking the glass ceiling. In her book Lean In, she claims many females hold back from going for promotions.

Speaking to CNN this week, she stated the gender equality debate has to include male voices, adding: “I think it is too hard for men to talk about gender. We have to let men talk about this … because we need men to talk about this if it is ever going to change.”

Companies can implement flexible working to give mothers more chance of breaking the glass ceiling and could also consider all-female shortlists as a way to encourage women members of staff to apply for the most senior roles at the organisation.