Employers are failing to make significant progress in removing the glass ceiling. That’s according to Maggie Berry, Managing Director of Women in Technology, a jobs board and recruiter dedicated to increasing the number of women in the technology industry.
The Future Foundation along with Friends Life has released a report entitled ‘Working Women’. The fifth in a series, the study examines the particular challenges faced by working women in striving to balance career and family aspirations.
The report revealed that the majority of working women see no end to obstacles hindering their advancement in the workplace. 55% of women believe there will still be a significant pay gap between men and women in 2020, while 53% think women will still be struggling much more than men to secure senior roles.
Maggie Berry says: “The results correspond closely with a recent survey we conducted ‘Women’s Careers in IT’, which revealed that little progress has been made towards gender equality in the workplace since the last survey in 2007. If little headway towards closing the gender pay gap has been made in the last three to four years, and this trend continues, we may well see that by 2020, not much will have changed.”
The ‘Working Women’ report indicates several potential reasons for this slow improvement, many of which are centred around maternity and motherhood issues. One potential reason could be a lack of willingness on employers’ part to offer flexible working.
The results showed that most working mothers agree that greater flexible working measures would have made their lives easier. Over half of women who returned to work after maternity leave would have appreciated “More flexibility in my working hours” (57%), “The ability to work from home whenever required” (54%) and “More flexibility in ability to work part-time” (51%).
Berry says: “An employer’s willingness to offer flexible working often comes down to the attitude of individual managers. This report, along with our latest Women in Technology survey, indicates that many women would benefit from a move to a position where all employers, large or small and across all sectors, are prepared to help women struggling to juggle the demands of their work and home lives.”
She adds: “However, women need to be realistic too. They must understand there will be compromise on both sides, and their employer may not be in a position to give them exactly what they ask for. While the ‘Working Women’ study showed that 88% of respondents agree that ‘A woman should be allowed to cut down on her paid work for the sake of her family without this impacting on her career opportunities’, this may not always be feasible, depending on the industry and size of the business.”
Other obstacles highlighted in the report were that 51% of mothers are concerned about the costs of returning to work after maternity leave, and that women with higher levels of seniority are more likely to feel that the female gender itself is a barrier to success.