The glass ceiling preventing women from climbing to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder will still be firmly in place at the end of this decade, according to a new report by Friends Life.
The report, 'Working Women' suggests that the majority of working women see no end to the obstacles hindering their advancement in the workplace. 55% 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. In contrast, men expect more equality between the sexes by 2020.
The findings highlight just how much progress still needs to be made to ensure male domination of the boardroom is ended and women can reach their full potential professionally. Motherhood and childcare pressures remain the biggest barriers for women. 51% of working mothers who have taken maternity leave agree that childcare is so expensive that financially it is not worth returning to work. 24% of working women with children under five spend more than a quarter of their salary on childcare. Of those who do choose to go back, the need for flexible working is almost universally recognised. 88% of working women believe they should be allowed to reduce their hours for the sake of their family without this affecting their career prospects.
While some organisations, particularly in the public sector, have made big strides in offering flexible working, there is still a long way to go. The report found that a shorter working week, subsidised childcare and the ability to work from home are all offered far less than many working mothers would like.
Other key findings include:
- Women in their 20s are significantly more likely than average to be taking greater control of their personal finances, with the recession having driven this trend
- Home ownership aspirations are stronger among young women than among young men
- 88% of working women in their 50s believe their age would make it difficult for them to find a new job if they were made redundant