Barriers to women’s progression

by | Dec 11, 2019 | All posts, Equality and Diversity, Health Sciences | 0 comments

In October 2019, the Government Equalities Office published three pieces of research on the barriers to women’s progression.

The research shows that:

  • Having a baby incurs a career penalty for most women.
  • Mothers are more likely to withdraw from full-time employment compared to fathers after having children and for those who do return to work, their career progression often gets stuck with a lower chance of getting a promotion.
  • Women’s progression in the workplace continues to be held back by barriers such as bias around pay and promotion, difficult workplace cultures (i.e. sexual harassment), tensions between balancing work with care and a shortage of quality part-time work with a good wage potential.
  • Introducing transparent and formal processes on pay and progression, destigmatising part-time and flexible work and better training for managers to support alternative working patterns are some of the actions employers could take to support progression in the workplace.
  • Employers as well as employees can benefit from introducing family friendly policies and practices with advantages such as better productivity, reduced absenteeism, improved recruitment and retention and higher staff satisfaction.

However, there is some hope, Helen Norman from School of Social Sciences has some answers in her paper about the impact of fathers’ involvement in childcare on mothers’ employment post-childbirth.

In summary:

  • Mothers with pre-school children are twice as likely to return to employment nine months and three years post-childbirth if the father is involved by sharing or doing the most childcare at these times.
  • To support women to return to work post-childbirth, changes need to be made to shared parental leave, childcare, flexible working and the gender pay gap.

Enabling fathers to be involved in the first year of a child’s life is key. There are three policy areas in need of reform:

  1. Introduce a well-paid, father’s quota of parental leave.
  2. Improve the supply of good quality, affordable and flexible childcare.
  3. Improve access to flexible working, including good quality, part-time employment. 
  4. Step up measures to close gender pay gaps 




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